I got Kicked out my hotel and spent an hour this morning (Monday) at the police station trying to prove I did not enter the country illegally!!
I wrote his on Monday, September 07, but could not post it until now as my blog site (along with facebook) was blocked in china.
When I first tried to make an entry on the blog I was going to say that Beijing is a fantastic city. That it is huge and although there is a population of 19 million people things seam to work. But after the last 24/48 hours my very has change a little.
First of all just to explain the life in Beijing at the moment. I have to mention that 1st of October is the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the people’s republic of china. Because it is the 60th the government is viewing this as an opportunity to show the world how great things are in china 60 years on. So they are a bit security paranoid at the moment!
-OK now I have sort of explained the craziness here ate the moment let me explain how I got kicked out of my hotel-
I arrived I Beijing on the 1st of September 5 nights before my intrepid travel trip to st Petersburg started. This was so I could get my visa to Mongolia and visit the great wall and forbidden city. So I got the visa and had an absolutely fantastic day at the great wall where I walked for about 4 hours along it!! It was awesome!! I tried to go to the Forbidden City but it lived up to its name and I was “forbidden” to go in as it was closed because of this 60years stuff. But I was able to look at the big wall surrounding it and see some of the roofs peaking over the top of it. That was all I could do! So yesterday Sunday I had to change hotels for the cheap $8 a night dorm room bed in the backpackers to the more expensive hotel that was the starting point for the trip on the train. When I went to check in to the hotel it was discovered that I did not have an entry stamp in my passport! No proof that I had entered the country legally!! Problem!! BIG Problem!! Where had it gone? My visa to Mongolia had been stuck (by someone at the Mongolian embassy) over the top of the stamp!!! I managed to get the starting point hotel to check me in as I had a photo copy of my passport before the visa was in it(so you could see the stamp) but a few hours later I was asked to check out aging by security (i.e. kicked out) because that had been on the phone with the police and the photo copy was not good enough as they could not tell if it was real! This means I could not stay in any hotel as I had no stamp to prove I entered the country legally!! I could not go back to the cheap hotel as it was across the road from the train station and that and everything between it and the T** (unable to mention the name) square was in lock down. Happy 60th!! So let me tell you getting kicked out of a hotel, knowing that it would be hard to get into another hotel as you have know proof that you were there legally is a scary experience! Not to mention half the city was in lock town!! Now this all happened on a SUNDAY! All the places ie: embassies and the Beijing Public Security Bureau were all closed!! Thankfully Mark (the trip leader) got me in to a hotel on the other side of town where he knows the owners!
So this morning I went to the Beijing Public Security Bureau (the police that handle visas and passport problems) to see it they could help me prove I was not here illegally. After an hour of being passed from person to person and being told: that my problem just does not happen. That no one would make this mistake. That I must be lying. I spoke to some who understood my problem but said they could do nothing.
So I went to the Mongolian embassy to get them to take the visa out and put a new one in on a blank page!! After a lot of talking and convincing… and looking at my passport and the page in question under all sorts of different lights they agreed to change it if I paid them a fee. So I did an about 24 hours later I am sitting here looking at a passport that has a visible entry stamp!!
Any way I am now in Mongolia having a fantastic time. UB is a funny city that has obviously rapidly expanded in the last 5 or so years and is struggling to cope. It has a very cold war era look to it(run down and no one cares).
My first night in Mongolia was in a home stay. With a family that still live a nomadic life in a gurr and speak no English.
I found out that Mongolia there are the 3 manly sports! I saw this as my opportunity to prove my masculinity. Unfortunately and probably unsurprisingly I have to say I failed all 3! I seam to lack any skill what so ever in Horse riding, archery and wrestling. In the horse riding and archery I can admit to my lack of skill. But I would like to say a few thing to regain some dignity with in the. Firstly it was cold!!! I was wearing a traditional wrestling outfit that has be designed to prove the competitors are male and not female so there was a lot (maybe too much) bare skin! Secondly I was up against a bolt. The head of the host family a man 3 or 4 times my size!! So I did not stand a chance but I gave it a go and it was loads of fun!!
Sorry about this late entry but yes I am still alive (with a sore bum form gorse riding). Tonight I have an overnight train to head on into Russia!!