How to get a 10-year visa to China

laelene Post in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
0

Well, it’s been over 2 years since I last got a visa to China and mine expired 4 months ago, so I had to go back again. Luckily, since that time, there is a new agreement in place that allows me to apply for a 10 year visa! Thank goodness I will only have to deal with this process once a decade. Here are some lessons from this time, building from my previous experience.

First of all, if you are applying for a visa in the DMV (DC metro area), make sure you’re going to the visa office on Wisconsin. The visa office is not in the embassy! I recommend parking over on 35th or Whitehaven – if you go down beyond the first block you’ll get past metered parking and find free 2-hour spots. Be sure to go in the morning or you might find yourself wasting an extra hour waiting for them to get back from lunch and/or not even getting serviced once they run out of time in the afternoon. They shut the doors at 2:30 so no new people come in, but from what I hear they keep on working through the line that has built up until 4 or later.

metal seats in waiting area at dc's chinese visa officeThis time I am going during tourist season, so oh my gosh it was waaaaaaay worse than last time. 20-40 minutes in line?! Please. Think more like 3-4 hours! In light of that, bring a snack. I nearly fainted the first time I was there since I was there until nearly 2 without any food all day. They do have a remodeled area that was under construction last time I was there. There are a lot of seats, but even more people and typically most of them are taken.

By the way, yes, you need to give them your passport. Your original, physical passport. It’ll come back with a giant sticker on one page containing your visa! Even though they have your passport at hand, you still need to provide a printed copy of your passport photo page and most recent visa (if you ever had one before). I think a lot people don’t realize that.

I was super paranoid this time because last time was not easy, so I actually came over-prepared. I had copies of my passport, visa, driver’s license (front and back), email with travel details, invitation letter from my dad, his passport, his visa (proof he lives and works in China), and the application form. I ended up only needing my passport copy, visa copy, and 2 pages of the flight confirmation email (which was like 10 pages long), in addition to the application.

I read online that they only accept typed forms, so thank goodness I didn’t try to fill it out by hand. I actually prepared two versions – one for the L visa, for general tourists, and one for the Q2 visa, for visiting relatives. I ended up going with the L visa application and all they needed was the part of my itinerary showing my name, which matches my passport, and my departure dates.

While I had been worried that I had a Chinese address instead of a hotel for the place I’d be staying, that didn’t end up being an issue. That’s why I also had my dad’s info, to prove that he knew I was coming and had “invited” me to join him. Luckily, they didn’t seem to need any proof that I could stay at the Beijing address I gave.

Last Friday, we had a morning All Hands that ended around 10 and I headed out to apply for my visa. I arrived at 10:59 and got a ticket for the B numbers, which are for non-Chinese passport holders applying for a visa. A is for Chinese passport holders who are renewing their passport or processing other needs. C is for diplomats and other special folks, I believe. D is for those picking up something and gets you to the payment window. Windows are distributed by function too. Window 1 seems to be for travel agents and others with special scenarios. Window 2 is often vacant. Window 3-7 are for visa processing, with Window 5 being for diplomats. Window 8 & 9 are for Chinese citizens. Window 10 is for payment, and Window 11 is for pickup.

I sat for nearly 3 hours before getting called and for all that… my time at the window was around 2 minutes. I had managed to take a nap, do a lot of staring, and go move my car in that time. They seriously need to streamline this process. Add on the hour to get there and hour back and that was 5 hours just to submit my application. Thankfully, I was prepared and had everything I needed. There were no hiccups this time, no getting sent upstairs and having to spend money to fill out a form at a travel agency, no rejections at the window after a long wait. I was told I could come back on Wednesday to pick up my visa.

This past Friday, I was able to return. This time I came earlier, arriving before 10:30. As it was approaching 12:30, I started to get really nervous that I would not get in before the lunch break. The payment window closes 12:30-1:30 for lunch and it’s the only place you can pay before reclaiming your passport with your new visa. I was so relieved when I got called at 12:20, with time to spare! It was about a minute to pay (I wonder what all the other people did and why they were much slower) and then a brief wait for the person at the next window to come back and find my passport. Within 2 hours, I was happily on my way  back to the car!

I’m glad this won’t have to happen again for a long, long time.

Why you should give feedback to companies

laelene Post in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
0

Are you the type of person who will write to a company or call them when you have a comment? Or are you like most and dismiss it as not worth your time and effort?

While mostly I’m thinking of standing up for yourself when something goes wrong, this can also apply to positive feedback. Companies won’t ever know if you don’t tell them explicitly. It’s amazing how many people never bother to share when something went awry. If that’s the case, the issue will likely persist.

On a personal level, you can benefit from reaching out to companies. For example, on our recent Europe trip, both Panda and Calavera’s suitcases were damaged (by different airlines). Panda wrote an email to them, was able to dig up an old receipt for a luggage purchase, and is being reimbursed $100. If Calavera doesn’t do the same, she won’t be compensated.

This works in all sorts of realms. When service was not good, I reach out to restaurants or airlines and they usually offer a free meal or airlines miles, as appropriate.

On the positive side, I once reached out to Yuzen because I was so in love with their service. Now I get to be a brand ambassador and receive boxes for free! Or another time, my excitement and eagerness in reaching out got me a free area rug.

Today I came home to find a box for Panda. It turned out to be a bunch of free jerky! Again, we never would have gotten it had he not reached out when we got a less than optimal product. See the opportunities that are out there? And this is not even factoring in how companies can take this feedback and learn from it. I sure hope they’re doing that!!

five assorted bags of epic jerky

Free snacks!!

five assorted bags of epic jerky and trail mix

Smokey wanted a piece too.

Summertime spottings

laelene Post in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
0

The thing I’m going to miss most about NoVA is all the different creatures you can find in nature. On just a weekend stroll, we were able to find many animals!

momma duck at edge of pond with half a dozen ducklings

A momma duck with at least 6-7 babies.

green frog camouflaging in leaves by pond

A green frog camouflaging against the leaves.

frog or polliwog in water with head sticking out

A small frog and many polliwogs!

giant polyphemus moth on grass

A giant moth that I think is a polyphemus moth.

I love finding cool new life all around me!!

On My Mind, episode 12: winning

laelene Post in on my mind,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
0

It’s the first day of my last two weeks on the job and I’m not yet ready for the change, though I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been on a streak of good fortune, which has been nice.

It started when I got an email about potential roommates. I had wanted to split a 3-bedroom to save on costs, but wasn’t sure how to begin. I’d looked at some apartments and that was it. As luck would have it, one of the girls I met at admit weekend reached out to me – she and another girl had secured an apartment and needed a third roommate. The place is in DTLA just like I wanted and it looks fabulous. It’s a quick and easy drive down to campus. The rent cost is less then the $1400 max I was hoping for.

So there I was, with an opportunity in my lap. The other girl happens to live in DC, so we were able to meet up after work last Tuesday to chat and make sure we were a good fit. I’m pleased to say that everything went well and we’re going ahead with getting me added to the lease! How easy was that?

Then last week we had an internal testing event to try out the new app we’ll be rolling out. For our participation, we were entered in a drawing for one of three $150 Amazon gift cards. I was the very last name drawn, how exciting!! What a nice parting gift to get. 🙂

As if that wasn’t all good enough, I noticed a message in my Instagram account. I don’t check often, but it happened to catch my eye. I had won a contest for a free Lilee box, courtesy of Beauty Box 5 and others hosting a Sunset Shop Giveaway. Yippee! I don’t enter contests as much anymore, but I’m glad to see I can still win them from time to time. I’ve found that I usually have a 1-1.5% success rate.

And hey while I’m at it, I’d like to celebrate the fact that I opened a Capital One 360 Savings account and found out they have a pretty awesome interest rate of 0.75% APY. Certainly better than the other accounts I have open elsewhere. My mom says that Discover has a great one too, so when I see a good offer for new accounts, I’ll have to set one up.

Finally, it is the start of the end for me and in a way, that’s worth celebrating. I’ll miss my friends and aspects of working here, but I really look forward to learning new things, meeting people who are as excited about business as I am, and setting my career on the track I’ve wanted for some time now.

Treatsie May 2016 review

laelene Post in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
0

This will be my last box from them. After being there from the start and seeing their changes in packaging along the way, it’s time for me to save money while in school.

Treatsie is $15 per box + $4.95 shipping and comes with artisan candy from 3-4 brands. That means about 6 or 7 different flavors of treats. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral link program to earn store credit. Use my referral link and code FRBUCO01 to get double the treats (a purported $40 value) in your first box!

treatsie may 2016 box contents treatsie may 2016 info card

Raley’s Confectionary Acid Drops hard candy: Well doesn’t that sound dangerous? I think it refers to the tartness of these sour candies, which are delightful. Just the type of thing that I like, sweet yet sour. This will last me a long time since one piece is enough for quite awhile. I totally want to try using these with a cotton candy machine – sour cotton candy? Hmm…

Izard Chocolate caramels: Love these! I’m a big fan of caramels and these are very good. I do like slightly more firm caramels, but if you like super soft gooey ones, try these. I probably should have stuck them in the fridge for the texture that I like.

Grey Ghost Bakery Chocolate Espresso cookies: I gave these to Panda to eat since I don’t like anything coffee-flavored, but I do like Grey Ghost cookies.

Grey Ghost Bakery Cinnamon Pecan cookies: These aren’t my favorite flavor from them, but it’s good with a nice cinnamon taste. It’s more dry than I tend to like, but still good. The sweetness is light at first and then kicks in after chewing a little bit. The chunks of pecan fall off easily.

Not a bad box to go out on, though I wish they had other cookie flavors that I enjoy more! What do you think of the treats from this box? To get Treatsie, sign up with my link and code FRBUCO01 to get double the treats in your first box!

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Oceanside birds

laelene Post in video blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
0

With my pending move back to the West coast, I’m looking forward to being near beaches and awesome seabirds again. 🙂 Last time I was hanging out at the beach was in Ventura, almost exactly a year ago!

pelican trio flying by Oxnard from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

seagull flying over crashing tide slow-mo from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

seagull flying overhead past sun slow-mo from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

trying to scare seagulls from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

pelican and friend landing in ocean from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

pelican soaring off in distance from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Central/Eastern European souvenirs

laelene Post in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
3

This most recent trip to Europe allowed me to revisit some places I hadn’t been to in 9 years and also check out new places that have been on my wishlist. It was a lot of fun and I got some gifts along the way to remember each place by!

Our first official stop was Praha (Prague). There were so many artists, musicians, and crafters to be found everywhere. In one of of the shops, I got my first souvenir – a little metal cup. One of the few that wasn’t a glossy finish, which appealed to me.

teal metal cup with owl designs

I liked the matte look and the funky owls!

Then as we were walking across Charles Bridge, perusing the various vendors, I saw a guy selling these adorable paintings! I just had to have one since he had such a fun style and had cats in each piece. This one is perfect because it has the cat couple, plus two extra cats – just like me, Panda, and our cats.

original artwork of prague with cats and hot air balloons at night

I loved that this incorporated cats and had cute little hot air balloons.

Next up was Warszawa (Warsaw), where we explored a massive park and the Neon Muzeum, all the while eating peirogis. I managed to add to my growing collection of TOUS jewelry (this is the 4th piece) and find some local folk art. I’m very happy with the usefulness of the giant coaster, which will be good for putting pots on.

tous onyx bear necklace from warsaw

When we saw a TOUS store at one of the shopping centers, we couldn’t resist. I finally got something from the onyx collection I’d been eyeing!

brightly-colored coaster with roosters and flowers

I originally saw a tote bag with a similar design, but I have so many bags that I was determined to find this look and feel on a different product.

Then we were off to Wien (Vienna) to fulfill my long-awaited dream of seeing the Spanish Riding School. We also went to tour one of Mozart’s homes and the Haus der Musik. When we came across the stalls by St. Stephen’s Cathedral, I found the opportunity to get something with the word “Vienna” on it. I liked the handmade nature of these glass cups that are perfect for holding a tea light.

glass cup for candles with colorful stained-glass scene handpainted on

We had just a few Euros left, but I really liked this one because the name was easily visible (unlike the others where Vienna was along the bottom). We had to pay in a combo of Euros and dollars!

After that, it was down to Split in Croatia. We enjoyed exploring the city of Split, where I found the amazing backpack that is perfect for my needs. We spent a whole day going up to Krka National Park for the waterfalls (freezing cold water, but totally worth it!). And of course, we just had to go out to Hvar Island to check it out. My favorite was going over to Palmizana, a smaller island off of Hvar.

drawstring backpack with elephant design from split, croatia

All pockets open and close with a magnet, which I love. There are side pockets inside as well as zippered areas inside and on the back. All sorts of storage options!

box of lavender buds and essential oil drops, plus bonus pouch of lavender buds from hvar in croatia

Apparently there are lots of lavender fields in the area, so at Hvar I got this adorable box filled with lavender buds. There’s a bottle of essential oil inside as well, to help enhance the scent with a few drops every now and then. The lady kindly gave me a pouch as a bonus.

Finally, rounding out the trip was Budapest, with fantastic views from the Buda side. I loved getting goulash nearly every meal and we got to relax at the Szechenyi thermal baths. Up at Citadella, I saw a tower of mugs (think Christmas tree shape, except everything hanging is mugs) and knew I had to get one. I wasn’t crazy about any of the color combos, so I waited to find them again elsewhere until I decided on this funky one.

giant polka-dotted mug from budapest

My ladybug mug, as it will be known. It’s really a bowl with a handle and I can just about stick my entire face in it.

So these are all the items I have to remind me of this super fun trip to Central/Eastern Europe! I tried to get things I would use and not just stuff to put on a shelf. There’s so much more that I would have liked to have gotten, but that will have to wait for next time. 🙂

Petit Vour May 2016 review

laelene Post in reviews, subscriptions
0

Alright, I think I’m finally ready to let this one go. I’ve enjoyed the vegan brands they’ve introduced me to and I’ll keep them in mind for the future.

Petit Vour is $15 per box (or as much as $30 for international subscribers) and comes with vegan beauty, skincare, and other personal care products. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral program that earns you points towards free boxes (email contact@petitvour.com to say I referred you if you sign up!).

2016-05-25 12.57.352016-05-25 12.57.48

captain blankenship Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray – This has a nice light scent that is refreshing. It’s super cute and like the branding. My hair is still wet, so I’ll have to see how this takes shape and holds the waviness. Since it’s so light, it makes me feel like I probably need to use more, but we will see. With me moving back to LA, I’m sure I’ll be able to recreate the beach look without necessarily driving out there!

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Blemish Clearing – Over the years I’ve received this many times and I’m happy to have it. The cute little size makes it easy to travel with and it ample for many uses. There’s a tingling I feel when I use it and then it starts to dry and I rinse it off. My acne has gotten better so I haven’t used it recently, but I should since I have so many now!

Bedrock & Bloom Smart Ash teeth whitener + detoxifier – Brushing with charcoal is not a new concept to me, but it’s still something I’ve yet to try. There’s something funny about brushing with black powder to gain whiter teeth. And it sounds like a strange thing to do. I’ve never seen one that also helps strengthen teeth as this one claims, so that’s awesome. This one has other ingredients too, which actually give it a cooling minty feel. I look forward to the results!

Ecco Bella Flower Color in Power – What a delightful lip gloss! It’s a sweet scent that wafts up from my lips occasionally, which is quite nice. It feels a bit slippery on my lips, which makes me want to press them together all the time. I love the color of this, which is darker than the other glosses I have and there’s a handy mirror on the tube to help me make sure I applied it well. It’s sort of like a lipstick and gloss in one.

This was a great box with everything that I’d use. I’ve enjoyed receiving it but it’s time to stop and save money for grad school! One more time – what do you think of the products this month?

[This post mentions a referral program. Signing up and emailing contact@petitvour.com to say I referred you helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

Whirlwind trip

laelene Post in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , ,
0

The past two weeks have been a blur of travel activity. We managed a whopping 10 legs of flights going through 6 countries and boy are we pooped!! We crammed so much into each day that sometimes we couldn’t believe all that we’ve seen. I’ll recap some off it in the coming weeks.

It feels strange to be home, no longer having to pack up and get to the next destination. My legs are achy from all the walking (we topped out at over 30,000 steps one day) and I’ve had a bad ankle much of the trip. We ate so much good food that we needed all that walking to not gain weight! It’s nice to rest now and take things slower.

I look forward to sharing more about what we did, in case you’re ever interested in going to the places we did. 🙂

Pace of travel

laelene Post in general blog
2

When I travel, I tend to go at a fast pace. People often think I’m crazy for it, but a typical tour averages 1.5 days per city. I like to hit up a region and get a quick sense of each city so when I’m older and find it harder to keep up a pace, I know which places I prefer more and would want to stay at for a longer time.

The first time I did this was 9 years ago, when I had 5 weeks for spring break while studying abroad. Since I was already in the UK and near Europe, I decided to visit as much as possible. I made it through 15 countries and I believe 22 cities in that time. It was a lot of walking, packing, unpacking, and exploring.

That was the most ambitious trip I’ve ever done, though I’ve done shorter versions since, again in Europe and also in Southeast Asia. I’ll probably do a similar thing in Central and South America one day. Plus, cruises offer quick pit stops at multiple cities and I’ve done three of those (Alaska, Caribbean, and Mexico). Otherwise, I think I’ll be taking more time in each place and lengthening stays to a good 3 days per city (or more!).

One day I’ll go the complete opposite route and spend a week or weeks in an area, like I do when I’m home in China. Then I can actually unpack my suitcase completely and live there for awhile.

So what’s your travel style? Has it evolved with you?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...