I went back to the municipal police station to extend my visa. I needed nothing fancy, just a few weeks more to do some traveling inside of the country, until I would hop on my plane back to Germany on October 13th. Easy as pie, I figured. After all the troubles in the Western regions, I was happy to be back.
…until I realized that I had drawn waiting number 1252, and they were currently calling out number 1014:
There were 238 (two hundred thirty-eight) people waiting in line before me, and one number seemed to take around 15-20 minutes to proceed – WTF??
I decided to stick around.
So there I was, hanging out on a window seat reading Patrick Leigh Fermor and having one hell of a good time, when Mike from Tadjikistan and Little Ma 小马 from Kyrgyzstan came over and said hello. They were also waiting for their numbers to be called up. I told them they were the first Tadjik and the first Kyrgyz I had ever seen, and then I found out that Little Ma was actually a a descendant of the Dungan, which were part of the Hui (muslims and water-fountains) but had fled China more than one hundred years ago. Cool!! We chatted for a while, and when I told them about my miserable situation, they gracefully came up with a waiting number from a friend who had left:
So there I was, one hundred and sixty nine numbers ahead, and it wasn’t even lunch time yet!
After a while their numbers got called up, so they handed in their applications, and I was alone with PLF again.
Then suddenly everybody got kicked out, because it was officially lunch time.
I decided to go back to the place where I had eaten those fantastic roasted baozi (yahximusiz):
Even the little waitress was there, and we both smiled when we said our mandatory “yahximusiz!”
So there I sat under the wines and enjoyed the afternoon atmosphere:
Then Bobur from Uzbekistan and Kurbon, an Uzbek from China, sat down and said hello.
Wow, the first Uzbeks I had ever seen – and they were so friendly too! I told them about my dream to go to Samarkand some day, and they decided to get me an even better waiting number for the police office:
Forty five numbers ahead again!? It was unbelievable!
I finally managed to turn in my application about a half hour before closing time, and I thought: this WAS easy as pie.
But then the police officer took my papers, looked at me and said: “There is a problem.”
“We cannot guarantee to process your application before October 1st. It’s a two weeks holiday period after that, so you will only be able to pick up your new visa after October 15th.”