Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First Try on the Kenyan Visa

First try because it was unsuccessful and there needs to be a second.

I took a taxi down to the Kenyan embassy this morning. My cab driver was pleasant, understood my Mandarin, and sang to me softly on the trip down to the embassy. He even asked if it was okay that we take the expressway (you have to pay)........after we were already on it.

We arrived at the correct street and about a half block down from where I needed to be. My fare was 39 kuai (about $6). I only had a 100 kuai note though and my cab driver didn't have the change. So, he drove me over to a grocery store so I could walk in and get it. This is the first time this has happened to me. I got my change and paid him his fare. Now I was about a block away but the weather this morning was nice so I walked on down to where I thought the embassy was located.

I saw a guard standing outside what I thought was the embassy and asked him if I was at the right spot. I showed him the map I printed from their website with English and Chinese on it. He read the name of the street out loud as if he had never heard of it before. Remember, I was on the correct street - the very same one we were currently standing on. He then called over to his friend - the other guard. He yelled out the address and (this was great) the other guard pointed behind the two of them to the building we were standing in front of. Yes. It seemed that the first guard was not quite sure what exactly he was guarding.

He then asked for my passport and let me through the gate. Inside the gate, I found nothing. There was an empty courtyard and two entrances. Neither entrance had a sign, so I tried the door on the left. Inside the door was again nothing. No one. No open doors. No signs. I almost left to try the other door when I saw someone through a little window.

When I explained that I needed to get a multi-entry visa for Kenya, she asked for all my paperwork. This is about when I realized that I didn't have my photos with me and I would most definitely have to come back. I thought I might as well get all the information I needed while I was there first though. She told me that the embassy here does not issue multi-entry visas, only single entry, and that I would have to get two of those. Fine. Then she told me that they would only issue me a visa if I was traveling with a Chinese tour group. I showed her the list of the people on our tour and explained that they were all in California. No dice. I have to be on a Chinese tour.

I thought about trying for the Tanzanian visa since I already took a half-day from work, but then I remembered that I had forgotten my photos anyway.

Oh well. If I had known all this, I could have had a relaxing morning away from work instead of rushing around and getting nothing done.

Hopefully I will be able to get my Kenyan visa in L.A. or my last chance will be to get it at the airport in Kenya. But I don't want to press my luck on that one.

Two weeks - Tanzanian Visa Adventure!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahh.....the absurdity of embassies. Okay, so is this more about China or more about Kenya? The guard story was priceless. I can't imagine anything of the sort ever happening in Japan ;)