Yeah. SO! There we were...
WHO: Nanay, Chantal and me.
WHAT happened: Few months back in 2012, my sister and I made a fool of ourselves when we booked with Cebu Pacific for a trip to Xiamen. Seeing that piso fare made us jumpy and animated and within a matter of few calls to Nanay in Iloilo and a quick shower – we bought three roundtrip tickets to Xiamen and back. Yes, the depth and length of our discussion went from me to the bed to the laptop and Chantal to the shower and back. Nanay was in Iloilo, and was in a hurry to leave for somewhere that time. That was how serious and smart we were with our decision.
WHEN was the decided schedule for the trip: January 9-16, 2013.
WHERE: Manila to Xiamen/Xiamen to Manila
HOW: Wake up, go online, browse lazily, receive a text from Citibank and BOOK A FLIGHT. Ours cost less than PHP 8,000 – and that would be 3 roundtrip tickets already. We picked the ever popular low-cost airline: Cebu Pacific.
Now. We did not do much research prior to the booking, and how APPLYING FOR A VISA escaped our thoughts – I DO NOT KNOW. But we eventually realized. Ohsh*tweneedvisas.
Since it was Chantal who arranged the Vietnam-Cambodia trip, it was my turn this time.
WHY: I don't know, but why not?!
STEP 1: Check out the visa requirements.
We only had a minor problem. As Chantal and I are not regular employees – we could not provide the ITR. Nor could we submit bank certificates stating that each of us has been maintaining a hundred thousand pesoseses in the bank for the last 6 months. No. We only got rich recently (LOL). Nanay, however, had no trouble qualifying. She met visa requirements easily. So, instead of submitting such legal and serious papers.. We opted for…
STEP 2: AN INVITATION LETTER! But of course it has to have a red stamp from a certified travel agency all the way from China. I did my research this time, and the VISA and IMMIGRATION threads from http://www.pinoyexchange.com were a lot of help.
The usually recommended travel agency was China Highlights. I inquired regarding a possible tour package from them, plus for the invitation letter and their quotation was SO EXPENSIVE. So, I googled some more and discovered something. I took a risk and chose China Absolute Tours, International. Their quotation’s cheaper. Plus, they put in 30 days for our maximum length of stay despite booking only 4 days with them. (Trust me, other agencies are not that kind enough.)
After a lot of emails to and fro the agency, we FINALLY had our tailor-fit-vacation ready for us. The agency sent the original copy of the invitation letter.
STEP 3: Trip to the CHINESE EMBASSY! We submitted the following:
· Passport (for the three of us)
· Photocopies of passports
· Completed application forms (NO BLANKS)
· Colored photos (could be 2x2/passport size)
· Invitation Letter (with red stamp), roundtrip tickets, hotel vouchers, itinerary of trip
· For NANAY: Bank certificate (at least PHP 100,000 for the last 6 months)
· For NANAY: Letter of employment
· For NANAY: BIR-stamped ITR
· For me and Chantal: our previous Taiwan visas (just in case.)
There was no hassle, the lines weren’t that long, they were moving.. And we were successful. We got our claim slip/receipt and voila!
STEP 4: Our applications’ been approved and WE GOT OUR VISAS!
Regular fee would PHP 1400 per person for Single Entry/4 working days processing. However, we paid PHP 2500 for expedited service, which would be 3 working days processing. We had to ‘rush’ it, as our ever travelling grandmother had to fly to Thailand sooner.
This all happened last December 2012. And when we finally flew to Xiamen on January 9, I could not help feeling a bit apprehensive. I could not rest until we landed and met the assigned tour guide. That would be the final confirmation that the whole ordeal IS indeed successful.
We landed, went outside the airport and saw Mina, our guide, waiting for us. :)
VERY, VERY HELPFUL SITES:
CHINA EMBASSY Consular Section
2nd & 3rd Floor,
The World Center,
330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue,
Republic of the Philippines.
Inquiry: 0063-2-8482395 ( Work Day 09:00 - 11:00 ,14:00-16:00)