Ni How?!

Wednesday night I got the most exciting call for work – you’re going to China.  Whoo hoo!  Did you know I booked a hotel for Beijing this week??  It has been on my bucket list and I started making a list of quick trips to accomplish before my tenure in Japan is over.

Getting a Visa for China

I started the online form on Thursday which required a photo. I know how to do this in the US but here?  I another expat told me they saw a photo booth close by in the mall.  I took my picture then headed on the train to Tokyo.

Interesting choices on the application.

Interesting choices on the application.

I took the wrong train, got lost.  Obviously.  But I’m going to save my word count for more interesting parts.  Regardless, I was excited to be walking around in Roppongi.  It always feels like a jail break to be out during the day.

At the Chinese Embassy

Beautiful artistry outside Chinese Embassy in Japan

Beautiful artistry outside Chinese Embassy in Japan

I put forth my paperwork and the lady whips out a glue stick for the photo. I was asked to fill out another form – the You Are Not At Home Form. Ok, no problem.  Crap, what’s my address? It’s on my resident card in Japanese. I sent a frantic email to my hubster then I just googled it.  I hand over my forms again. Go to line 3.

Line 3.

Line 3.

With my paperwork in order, I hand over my passport.  There are not enough pages to apply for a visa. Huh? You don’t have enough pages labeled visa. Come back on Monday with a new passport. Um, but I have to leave on Wednesday. Yes, come on Monday.

With blood pressure elevated, I googled the US Embassy website. 1 week turnaround. Fill out appointment form. I called and left message. I called again.  And again. I got someone on the phone.  Ok, that sounds like an emergency.  Come in at 2pm and bring the forms.  Whew.

So I sat in the Chinese embassy filling out the prerequesite forms online in order to add pages to my passport [thanks to my handy pocket wi-fi]. Sign and print. Print. Think. Walk. Breathe. I walked right up to the Grand Hyatt. Business center, of course!  Crisis averted.

When the going gets tough, the tough eat expensive lunches.

Amazing pumpkin gnocci with gorgonzola cream sauce.

Amazing pumpkin gnocci with gorgonzola cream sauce at the Grand Hyatt.

Enroute to the US Embassy in Tokyo
I decided there wasn’t enough time to get lost so I took a cab from the hotel.

Repeat after me. Say: “Asakasa“. Now say: “Asakusa“.

After a few minutes, I had a bad feeling so I decided to show the cab driver the address. In response, he shared with me the proper pronunciation of “Asakasa”, yelled at me in Japanese, then dropped me off. NOT AT THE EMBASSY.  Google map check – nope, pocket wi-fi battery is dead.  So I wonder off to another hotel to find a cab who will take me to the embassy.

The US Embassy in Tokyo

In order to walk on the sidewalk in front of the embassy, a passport is necessary.  Then outside the security gate, I was requested to show my appointment paper.  This required another phone call.  Pass.  Upon entrance to the security gate, I put the following in a basket for them to watch since they are not allowed in the building:

  • iPad
  • Laptop
  • Japanese Cell phone
  • US Blackberry
  • Pocket wi-fi
  • All of the cords associated with my multitude of electronics

The security guard started laughing.  Sorry, I got stuff.  Upon entering, I went through another check.  Get to my destination and the very nice lady reviews my information.  You have no pages left.  Yeah, I guess it’s a true sign I’m an expat.  Come back in an hour.

An Hour of Picture Taking


Back At the US Embassy
Security guard laughs again coupled with weren’t you just here? Yes, I’m back to get my passport.  The nice lady throws here hands in the air with celebration at my arrival. Seriously, nice lady, it is a celebration. Gimme my passport.

I head out and tell the security guards kin yobi [Friday], time for bieru.  I capped off the night talking to the fabulous staff at the Oak Door Bar.  Checked off another bucket list item to see where Lost in Translation was filmed.

Cool open kitchen to Chinese restaurant next door.

Cool open kitchen to Chinese restaurant next door.

Saga continues on Monday!

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