Grand Central, to the Chinese Consulate
New York Travel Blog› entry 3 of 28 › view all entries
It's a little over 2 hours train ride to New York City, but watching the scenery and listening to my ipod made it seem shorter. I arrived in Grand Central Station, and went to meet my friend Lee by the big clock at the information booth (It's a popular impossible-to-miss meeting spot in Grand Central) While waiting for Lee, I filled out the Chinese visa application form I had printed off the internet. Lee found me, we grabbed a cab, and headed towards the Chinese Consulate! First, though...I had to stop at a photo place to get a passport photo made for the visa. Cost $11.95 for 2 pictures, but we were only there 5 minutes.
It didn't take too long to get to the consulate, it was across the street from the Circle Line, which offers boat tours up the Hudson around Manhattan. (I remember going there as a child with my Grandparents.) We had to go through a security check, similer to an airport, to get inside the building. Once inside, it reminded me of the Department of motor vehicles...just in Chinese! Full of people taking up all the seats, going up to the window when your number is called. We were a few hundred numbers away, and since there were no seats available, and we hadn't had lunch, we decided to grab something at a pizza place down the street. The guard told us the wait was a little over an hour, so we had plenty of time.
It turned out I didn't need a letter from my boss after all. My traveling companions, Lee, Dave and Doug, all work for media outlets and were required to have letters stating they would not be conducting any business in China. Being a lowly roofing salesman, I was exempt! Lee did have a letter, though, and we breezed through the line in minutes. It takes 4 days for the visas to be ready, but they allow you to have a "representative" pick it up, so Lee will grab mine when he gets his, and hang onto it until the trip.
Overall, a (fairly) quick and easy process to get a visa, costing $50 due on pickup. We grabbed a cab back to Grand Central Station, Lee went back to his office, and I caught the 2:00 Metro North train back to Milford. Visa application process successful, one step closer to China!