Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Big Brotherly Love

Of course, all the flight and hotel reservations in the world won’t help you if you can’t get into the country. So this week I’ve been trying to chase down visas. Neither Mongolia nor Japan requires visas of American citizens on short trips. (Who knew these two could agree on anything?) But China does, and boy does Russia.

Yesterday I stopped by the Chinese consulate in San Francisco to drop off my visa application. It was an interesting experience, kind of like the DMV only with less despair and more yoga. There were lines, but they went pretty quickly. It took about 30 seconds for the woman at the window to collect my paperwork and tell me to come back Friday to pick up my visa. Easy.

The interesting part is that in front of both the entrances to the visa office were groups of Falun Gong activists. It was the most mellow protest I’d ever seen. A bunch of middle-aged and elderly people stretching. Monday mornings at Curves are more rowdy than that.

That’s one of the few good things about oppressive countries--it’s so easy to be a rebel without actually endangering yourself.

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