Subject: Re: China Visa
Erik, Not being an American, I'm not sure if the process is similar, but in Canada, gaining a visa from the Chinese Government requires that you surrender your passport for about a week. I went to the Chinese Consulate in Toronto and had to leave the passports at the office. I was able to get both Nepali and Australian visas without giving up our passports. I was not comfortable with leaving them at the Chinese Consulate but it was the only way we could get the visa - like most, I don't like to surrender my passport to anyone.

It would be interesting to find out why there is a need to surrender a passport in any circumstance. The cynic in me says it's because the bureaucracy is a creature of habit.

BTW, once we arrived in Beijing, we never encountered any "officialdom" despite the fact that we wandered all over the city (i.e. we were lost a lot of the time). All the Chinese we met were gracious and we saw soldiers only in the area of Tienanmen Square. We had to rush through Beijing Airport, (we were late for a Beijing-Calcutta-Kathmandu flight) and decided to be blustering Westerners. It worked. I hate to think back on this - we probably acted like the ugly Westerner, but hey we were in a rush. Lucy, Toronto