When W. and I were in Laoag a few months ago for the start of our north-to-south Philippine adventure, we had the spur-of-the-moment idea to apply for Chinese visas there, since I remembered that China had a diplomatic mission in Laoag. We had a three-week trip to Vietnam coming up, and we thought, “Hey, since we have ample time there, why don’t we also cross the border to the Guangxi region of China?” So we filled up the application form downloaded from their website and photocopied our previous Chinese visas. It was a breeze to get Chinese visas at the Chinese consulate in Cebu, so it must be the same in Laoag, right?
WRONG. For one, none of the locals knew where the consulate was. The hotel receptionist didn’t know. His reaction: “Really? There’s a Chinese consulate here in Laoag?” The security guard didn’t know either. Even the tricycle driver didn’t know. Their reaction: “Huh? Chinese consulate? What’s that?” Good thing the consulate has an exterior shot of their building posted on their website. We kept our eyes peeled for it as the driver chugged down the national highway, and eventually we spotted it. Yay!
Our thrill was short-lived. Once inside, we submitted our documents to the nice middle-aged lady, a Filipina, at the receiving desk. After quickly scanning them, she returned the papers to us, saying she couldn’t accept them and pass them on to the Chinese consul, because:
- We weren’t from Northern Luzon. They only accept applications from the following regions: Cordillera Administrative Region (Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province), Ilocos Region (Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan), and Cagayan Valley (Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino).
- Our previous Chinese visas weren’t issued by them. Mine was issued in Cebu; W.’s was issued in Houston.
The lady gave us the following conspiratorial tips on how to get our application approved by the consul there:
- Enter a Northern Luzon address as our permanent home address. W. has some relatives in the area, but I felt iffy using their address. Who knows, the consul just might call us up for a personal interview and have us talk in Ilocano (instant buking). The lady assured us that the likelihood of an interview was slim to none as long as everything looks good on paper, and besides, the consul wouldn’t know Tagalog or Cebuano from Ilocano anyway. But nah, I didn’t want to risk it.
- Apply as a first-time applicant, complete with financial and employment records. As we were traveling, we didn’t have any of these documents with us.
We decided not to push through and just spend all our time in Vietnam. It turned out to be a good idea, since we had a blast there (click here for my Vietnam posts).