pictures. Let's see how technology works. :)
Updated: looks like the main part of the article didn't make it so lets try adding it below. Sorry for the confusion.
The absurdity of Chinese bureaucracy.
Let me tell you about my time trying to get a renewal for my chinese visa. I purchased a one year multi entry visa back in November of '09 as I wasn't sure when I'd come in or out of the country and wanted to have all my bases covered. Having left to go to HK and Macau this proved a great idea. The problem was that it starts not on the day you enter the country but on the day you purchase it. I didn't make it to china till the end of Aug. This gave me three months in china, a time that is more than enough but yet somehow here I was with a few days left before my visa ran out. So I headed to the local Public Safety Bureau in Chengdu to get my renewal. If all of china is run in this way then it's no surprise to me why the country hasn't produced anything notable in years.
First thing you do is go to the desk marked visa's in English. You are then sent to another unmarked desk to get a number. Your number gets called and you go to the desk you first went to and tell them what you want, they then refer you back to the desk you got the number from to fill out the forms you need. After this you proceed back to desk one with everything. They review it, ask some questions and keep it. They hand you a piece of paper that says your visa is being renewed (in case you are stopped and need to prove that you're allowed here) and tell you to come back next week. Oh, and of course they tell you that you can't leave the city. Did I mention that Chengdu is apparently the only PSB that takes 5 working days (read 1 week!) to get a renewal. most other cities take a day or even an hour. Chengdu also extends from the day you request not the end of your visa. Things I wish I knew then as I essentially lost a few days of possible stay.
When you come back he next week you show them the receipt they gave you, they then print a form out that you need to take to the bank. Yes, you can't pay in the building you need to walk a few blocks to a bank. At the bank you show them the papers you have, give the money and they give you a piece of paper back showing you paid. You then go back to the PSB show them you paid and you should get your visa back, fresh with a new visa.
As difficult an annoying as this I had even more problems with mine. When I got to the bank it wasn't as easy as just paying. You need to get a ticket to see a ticket agent. There were 4 agents and 2 were working. The people being helped were taking ages. I estimated that with the people ahead of me that I'd be waiting near an hour just to see a lady to hand her my hard earned money that she'd take quickly and dispense with me. I don't know what the others were doing as when I finally made it to the window I gave her my papers and money and she gave me my receipt in all under a minute.
Back at the PSB when I gave them the receipt I was told my visa wasn't here yet. Of course it wasn't, why would it be as I only had two hours to catch a train. I was told it would be here at 10am, 15minutes from now. I asked are you sure it would be here then. The lady left the desk to talk to someone in another room and came back and said for me to come back later. I snapped a little bit and said that I had a train to catch and wanted to know when my visa, which was supposed to be here would be here. She went to the other room again and then came back and told me to wait. Again she looked through her cabinet of passports and somehow this time it showed up. It was here the whole time. Probably had been there since the day I dropped it off. Either she wanted to mess with an American or she was incompetent. I'm going to guess both. Something I forgot to mention was that my one year multi entry visa cost $150 US. My 1 month single exit visa cost… drum roll… $150. All renewal visas cost about $25 in China… all except the US they charge us a shit load more. Some days you just hate China, and they seem to do all they can do to make yo feel this way.
From talking with other people this common sentimentality was thought, most countries do all they can to get you to come to their country to spend money on tourism. China seems to do all it can to make you not want to come.