The reason for needing help? Well with one week before flying home I could not locate my passport. Pretty major loss, as all my visas are also included within the passport. Fortunately I hadn't left it it until the last night before getting the passport out.
Of course, unless I could get an emergency passport which could be given through the British Consulate I would not be leaving China. Before I could do this I had to report it lost or stolen at local police station, who then sent me to the local visa office. It was here I would be able to collect a reported lost document, which in turn I had to take to consulate. First little hitch, but not unsurmountable, it would take two working days to process lost document. This meant it would be Monday before I could get it. I was flying home Wednesday, and there were still a few more steps to the final papers.
It was a long weekend. I was not the happiest of people. For anyone reading this who doesn't know me, I have to let you know I don't lose things. I file, I organise and like everything in its place. So I was so angry with myself. My only excuse could be that I have to carry my passport with me, I have at some point mislaid it. I really thought it was going to be in one of my handbags. But with every bag turned inside out, every drawer searched and every possible place I could think of being searched it was obvious it was not going to be found.
Fortunately a pre arranged night out on Saturday got me out of the house. A few drinks and a comedy show took my mind off the possibility I would not be going home in time for my niece's wedding, and a chance to be with my family. This was making me so annoyed with myself.
Eventually Monday arrived and I was back at the visa office. The paperwork I had filled in on the Thursday was pulled from the file it had been put into, and the official filled it in at this point, and stamped it. Why, I wondered has she not done this on the Thursday. However no point in challenging them.
Now off to Consulate. All went well. £100 would get me an emergency passport, valid for one return trip! It would be ready in three and a half hours. So I could pick it up at 2-30. I had then to get it to a local police station to get them them validate it before finally going back to the visa office for the final stamp. It would close at 4-30, and there was no guarantee they would do it within the time, it could be up to five days. It was a very tense day. I had my husband's assistant with me and my driver.
Police station looked as though it might scupper the whole procedure as they wanted to see rental agreement on apartment. I don't know how, but my driver managed to over ride their refusal and get the much needed stamp, or chop as it is called here. The chop is all powerful. Time was now running out. It was at this point my driver really came through, he drove like a formula one driver. No cones could stop him, indeed he was even overtaking police cars. He was a star.
Finally we arrived at the visa office. By the time we had reached the final point, there was 15 minutes to go before the office would close. Still no one would promise us what we wanted to hear. But the second from last person we saw wrote " extreme urgency" on the top of my paper. The end was in sight.
Final stamp? Not quite! I have to return at 4-00pm the following day. I leave home at 4-00am on the day after to begin my trip home. So we are really cutting it fine. I am almost breathing normally, but until it's in my hand I'll still have a few doubts.
It is now one hour before I go for the final paper. I have packed, and I feel more relaxed than I have in days. All my own doing and I still feel very annoyed with myself. It will not happen again. The final paper won't give me re- entry into China, I will have to apply for that once I get home, but that wont be a problem. I'll cope with that.
So it seems it's all worked out. A few hairy moments. A few people wanted to use their power to make it difficult, but they were always pleasant, just doing their job! Would it be any different anywhere else?
I don't think so.
So hopefully tomorrow morning I will be flying home. If paper is not ready at 4-00 when I go to pick it up, well who knows. But if you don't see me blogging for a few weeks then you will know I am home enjoying time with my family and friends.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible.