Tuesday 6 November 2012

Day 585: The Last Visa

I've been rather quiet the last few days because I've been putting most of my energy into - read: stressing over - getting my last visa sorted out for my return home through Russia.  I'm pretty sure it's a success story and unless the sky falls in or the gremlins take over, I'll have the visa in my hands by the 13th... and if so, it will turn out not to be the hardest visa I've ever applied for: USA, China, I'm looking at you!*

Still, it's a lot of messing around getting paperwork ready, trekking over to the consulate through multiple stages of a new public transport system to meet a short and nebulously defined target opening time.  I had one dummy run getting those issues sorted out on Monday, was greeted very politely and helpfully by the consulate staff today and charged a sum of money so much smaller than the one Mike got sucked out of him that he is likely to have a nervous breakdown when he hears what it is.

So there you are - unless something goes drastically wrong, I'm coming home through Siberia in the winter, and adding South Korea and Germany to my list of visited countries (very briefly).

Countries visited over 21 months:
  1. France
  2. United Kingdom
  3. United States of America (inc Hawaii and American Samoa)
  4. Fiji
  5. New Caledonia
  6. Australia (inc Tasmania)
  7. New Zealand
  8. Indonesia (Bali)
  9. Singapore
  10. Malaysia
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Vietnam
  14. China
  15. Japan
  16. South Korea
  17. Russia
  18. Germany 
  19. United Kingdom
It feels like there should be more than that! Also it feels very strange that it's coming to an end.  Oh well, tomorrow I'm off to see some more anime.

* It is true that the visa application process is more complicated for citizens of some countries, notably the US and UK.  In fact it feels as if the Russians are openly collecting data on visitors from these countries well beyond what's relevant, no doubt in retaliation for similar activities on our governments' part.  Among the questions I wasn't really prepared for were the names, addresses and phone numbers of my last two employers and the names, addresses and phone numbers of my institutions of higher education + dates of starting and finishing. Not many people carry that information in their heads, so think of it if you're going to be applying to Russia for a visa and are making a longish trip to a consulate to do so. Also, we are required to confirm that we haven't done any of a number of obnoxious things, as per the USA immigration card, as task I always find quite entertaining. I think the other stuff you need is spelled out around the Internet.  For a transit visa: all tickets and bookings, passport, photograph, insurance (for some countries more than others but you should have it anyway), cash for the fee. The 'invitation' is not required for transit visas, though it is for others.

Friday 2 November 2012

Day 581: Manga

Today, instead of anime, I did manga.  I'm actually not a big, big fan of manga despite its links to anime.  I like my comic strips coloured in, like the French/Belgian ones. I rarely even buy those, because I hate to spend so much money on something I can read so fast. But I found out the Manga Museum had a free open day today so it was definitely worth going along.  The Manga Museum should probably be called a library.  It has a few little exhibitions in odd corners, but it's basically many, many bookshelves filled with manga comics.  They call this the manga wall. There is a long wall dedicated to translated manga, with plenty in English and French as well as other European and Asian languages. There are tables and a cafe where you can read and that's about it.  I stayed and read manga for a several hours. Course, I couldn't really take any photos of the manga, so here are a few bits of Kyoto I visited during the last few days.

Inside a temple compound, the Tojo I think
More of the same temple

The Kyoto Tower reflected in modern buildings
The riverside walk
Old style houses along the river banks