Once, when my kids were in high school, we had a scavenger hunt, using the whole of Denver for the party. Each team was given a list of things to find or do all over the city and it wasn’t until I watched them run to their cars, leap in and squeal tires to hit the road that I thought, “Uh oh, sending teenagers racing around town – NOT a good idea.”
I had a scavenger hunt today in Chiang Mai where I raced all over town to get my Visa to India.
First of all, just let me say, India does NOT want you to enter their country. They just don’t. This is judged by the hoops you have to jump through to get there. And, frankly, I am not sure why all us backpackers want to go. We know we are in for countless scams, stomach problems and if you are a woman, staring/groping fits from men. It’s not even a matter of should or shouldn’ts. It just IS. In your face. AND, LOTS of IT. Each backpacker has a different take on his or her experience there. Some love it, some hate it, but ALL have stories and all say this – India is…life unplugged. Good. Bad. Fast. Extreme. Overwhelming.
It seems to be something of a backpackers right-of-passage.
So, of course, I’ve got to go.
I started at 7:30 this morning. After filling out three pages of application and trying multiple places to print the forms, (some stores were closed, or unable to read my files, or the computers moved too F en slow even work at all), I eventually had the required copies of my passport, Thailand Visa, Thailand exit papers, and application, plus two 2 inch passport photos. Then, I showed up for my 10:15 appointment that I had made several days in advance and … stood in line. Because, ALL the appointments for that day, it turns out, were at 10:15, the same time as mine. Two people stood in front of me. The guy from Israel who did not have his bank statements FOR A YEAR and his itinerary IN DETAIL, so he was unable to apply, and the tall blond who wanted to go to the country one month from now, but not right now, so she was unable to apply because the visa begins on the issue date.
I didn’t want to visit India Now either. I thought I was going to have to come back later too. But, I asked the attendant if I had all the forms anyway.
No, I didn’t. She gave me another form and I also had to have a hotel CONFIRMATION.
After you apply, she told me, you can pick it up in TEN days.
(Oh mighty India, do you know what it’s like to stay in the same guest house for TEN days?)
I got into the tuk tuk and started back down the block.
*wait a minute
I turned around and went back.
“Could I get a three month visa?” (that way I did not have to go now, but if still within the three month window I would be golden)
Yes. I could. But, I had to reapply saying I wanted to stay three months.
I went home and dug out the computer to apply again.
Each time I applied, something happened that caused me to have to start all over because the “save feature” on the Indian web site wasn’t working.
I tapped away on it for a good two hours until….”Waaaa laaaaa!!!!” There it was! The shining and perfect application right on my computer screen!!! Kisses!!!!
I took this and my hotel confirmation, that, of course, I had to pay a non-refundable deposit for – I took these forms that now resided on my computer to the internet cafe to get printed.
Nope. Not happening. Can’t print from you computer. Saved it to a stick. Guess what? The printer can not read that.
So, I began the arduous application process all over in the internet cafe, where, I was paying by the minute and it only took about 3 minutes to load anything.
*If only I was joking. Please. Help me.
After this things just got worse and I can’t even talk about it, until, FINALLY! It was all done and I was back at the Indian Consulate by four. Yay! The internet said they closed at five.
In reality they closed at 12.
They were open only 9-12 and NOT 8-5 as the internet had reported.
I’m going back in the morning.
Now i’m sitting here wanting to be upset about it all but I really can’t. It turned out to be a good day with so many new things seen and learned that I never would have but by that scavenger hunt.
Tomorrow, tomorrow I kick A**.
Tonight I went out with my Colorado friends Gabs and Paul. And you can see, I’m still smiling.