Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To Russia...With Jet Lag?

Moscow, here we come!

Our normal flight path from the east coast of the United States to the east coast of China involves a trip up over the Arctic, down through Siberia, and directly to Beijing. A kind of westward trajectory, if you will.

This time, however, we will be heading east, to a very different part of Russia. Our plane will take off from New York City and land not in Beijing, but in Moscow. Yes, we will finally not only be flying over Russia, but will actually be standing on Russian soil. (Yes, yes...I realize that the airport doesn't really count, but, hey, the layover is not long enough to work in a quick trip to Red Square.)

Over the years, we have had close encounters with Russia, peering at Russia through border fences, eating Russian food, and even being mistaken for Russians! You see, in our stomping grounds of Beijing and northeastern China, there is a healthy population of Russians engaged in trading and other enterprises. (We have come to realize, as a byproduct of these encounters, just how few Russians there actually are in the United States.)

Our quick touch down in Moscow is courtesy of Transaero, the Russian airline we will be flying with. (Cue up long-running joke about old Soviet prop planes...) Hey, money talks when you are traveling half way around the world!


It's So Fun Being A Chinese Alien!

Here is how the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States (that's what it calls itself on its website) describes the Tourist Visa (L Visa)...

Tourist Visa (L Visa) is issued to an alien who comes to China for sightseeing or visiting family members or friends or for other personal affairs.

Based on observations of recent traffic in the Washington, DC visa office, there will be an awful lot of aliens in China this summer! (Can you say Men in Black III!?)


PS: Here is the fee schedule for Chinese visas...

American aliens...$140.
Aliens from other countries...$30.

Forget the currency exchange rate...Can the State Department do something about these visa fee disparities!?