Lijiang friday, 2 pm, back at the hotel.
What happened? cried the landlady not expecting to see us again that soon. I told her about the waiting room. She looked real sad and tried to think of what she could do to help us. If you have any questions, ask me she kept saying the next days. It’s a small hotel with about ten rooms around a very nice courtyard. With the advantage of free wifi, but that’s useless without my iPad. How handy was the iPad on the road for internet, email, and even the digital Yunnan chapter of the guidebook I had downloaded from Lonely Planet. She kindly let me unlimited use her computer and telephone.
Hillie and I tried to make a plan of things to do. In short: Cancel earlier made arrangements, contact the Consulate and get to Shanghai. So I first cancelled the hotel in Shangri-La and the flight on sunday from Shangri-La to Kunming. I had made the arrangement with Elong.net, a company with ’50 million satisfied costumers’. Despite that huge number it took less than ten minutes by phone with a real person to cancel the flight. Once again I’m impressed by the efficiency in this country. And indeed a few days later I saw the refund on my credit card account.
I phoned the Dutch Consulate in Shanghai. English speaking person. I explained the matter. Lot of unexpected questions, like ‘Why do you call us instead of the Embassy in Beijing? When is your flight back home? Come to the Consulate on monday (now is friday). You must report the theft in Kunming the capital of the province Yunnan, because Lijiang is too small for reporting stolen passports. You need a specific official paper for the Public Security Bureau.’ I did not like the idea of going to Kunming, afraid of being sent from one department to another. And if the statement I received from the police of Lijiang was not good enough for getting a visa, it would also not be good enough to fly or train to Kunming, so we would have to get there by bus which is a ten hours drive. That would be okay if my report of the stolen passport was accepted there. And that was uncertain, because the theft was in another place. I indeed feared to be sent between departments and cities. Knowing that in that case we would run out of time in order to fly back to Europe on the first of august, I protested saying that the police in Lijiang assured me that this report would be sufficient to get a visa. ‘Please fax the report you have and we will see’ So I did. It did not take her long to phone me and her answer was a relief. Our police report was adequate for getting an exit visa (when you have a passport, that is). To get an emergency passport would take one or two days depending on the speed of reaction of our hometown.
The next thing was to get to Shanghai as soon as we can.
Via Elong.net we learned that there are four daily direct flights from Lijiang to Shanghai, but for the next two days all flights were full. The next available flight was on monday evening and had four tickets left. Expensive ones. The cheaper ones were not before wednesday which I found too late to get things done in Shanghai. We could go to Chongqing and change flights there to Shanghai. That would be cheaper, but twice checking in with no passport and waiting for the luggage, promised a lot of hassle and therefor not certain that we could get the connecting flight. We were getting very tired of thinking and decided to sleep over the options. It was a long day. Knowing that photography is a hobby of mine Hillie suggested me to buy a new camera the next day. I found that a nice remark. Thoughtful.
(For next episode click on “Flying to Shanghai”)