Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Day 121 &122: Around Beijing - Mon 24 & Tues 25 Jun, 2013

Day 121 &122: Around Beijing - Mon 24 & Tues 25 Jun, 2013
Monday: Happy four months away from home milestone!
GirlRob booked out of hotel, to canvas the embassies for visas.

-       Russia (one side of town, small visa office, two guards): how many entries on one visa? "multiple means multiple", "90 days each time". Good.
-       Ukraine (other side of town) found it closed, so incensed as had called them over 30 times in last few days to set up an appointment or ask questions. Stood in line to talk to guard on gate, who wouldn't answer questions, or accept filled-in application
-       Uzbekistan (couple of blocks away), stand outside on line in sun, finally at front, allowed by guard into little room in no man’s land before embassy gates proper. Wanted to use concurrent passports, but firm "no, not without letter of invitation, which must be obtained from travel agency, in spite of not needing flight or hotel booking from them…” 
So frustrating - picked up application forms and left. Certainly not the most successful day.

Marina had a successful day's shopping

Opted for retail therapy to salvage the day - GirlRob had hair colour and cut instead!  Found this a highly entertaining experience, very busy salon, all male staff. Chose from English descriptions on colour tubes and did charades to show how to weave in second colour, they interpreted as putting in red foils only after rest of hair done in base colour (oh well), Wrapped in plastic cling, sat under rotating heat halo machine, then lay totally supine on bed with head backwards into sink for washing out colour, next in dryer-like machine which sucked out all the moisture and gave off steam. GirlRob was beetroot red, and overcooked!! Hairdresser bent comb in all directions to see best cut, added strengthening lotion, did a blow dry with gel. Staff and customers came to admire "you beautiful, beautiful", "and now you pay Y1084" (ouch!!) Should have bargained limit up front obviously.

Shiny-headed, went on to shop for farewell party awards, found "Princess Jude in Lotus Land" doll with wobbly neck (granting imperial yes or no to commoner's requests). Well satisfied, collected luggage and returned to Champing to BoyRob’s hotel to catch up on his story of day. He had taken camper to Webasto for stove repairs, but Chinese workmen had cut half the top off trying to get stove out before BoyRob stopped them, then broke one edge of glass top trying to prise it out with screwdriver (expletives removed). Fortunately the German manager ended up giving him a whole new stove and sealing it in place with rubber backing, all under warranty. Miles was not so lucky; they pulled out and disassembled his whole Webasto water heater, replaced the O-Ring, and put it all back together only to have water flood out all over floor as previously. He then had to "sleep-over" at the workshop to start the whole process over again in morning (expletives again removed).

The sports complex hotel has had smokers throughout, most unpleasant residual odours, but it was too late to change rooms, raining, and all Ozzie's drawer contents were strewn throughout the camper, and piled on bed - oh well.....

Tuesday: Some of group going to Simotai for 10km hike on unrestored section of the Great Wall. GirlRob opted out as too strenuous for her knee. Tried Ukrainian embassy again to book appointment to drop off passports and application for visa – but no, totally unresponsive to phonecalls, "closed on Monday" (this was Tuesday!), uncooperative re leaving visa at front gate. Gave up to try again in Ulaanbataar. Walked around Champing. Cleaned and packed camper ready to depart Beijing tomorrow. 


Ugh - no way!


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