First-hand Africa Experience| Blog 3 – Pack and Go

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Original 2017-09-22


Basics of interviewee

Name of interviewee: Zoe Zhao

Volunteer duration: 2016.5- 2016.9

Volunteer ID: 025326




Author: Hi Zoe, this week let’s talk about visa and luggage. Still remember how did you arrange for visa?


Zoe: I was doing a ‘Mou Bao’ visa (Chinese slang). I did it in Hong Kong


Author: Is there any reason you chose to do it in Hong Kong ?


Zoe: Generally, Hong Kong and Beijing are the two hot picks, and it is advised to start the process a month beforehand. I was staying abroad back then, ‘Mou Bao’ came more convenient. They only require my round-trip flight ticket and passport, delivery to Guangzhou and visa get signed in Hong Kong signed, in less than a week.


Author: Ihave also heard of visa-on-arrival, any difference with the one you did?


Zoe: It was also on my list of consideration. Though I wasn’t sure if it would work (i.e. if Chinese custom accepted such arrangement). I did not receive a clear-cut answer from the embassy, therefore picked this safer choice – do it in advance. But when met friends in Kenya, some verified visa-on-arrival also works.


Author: So what does ‘Xiao Huang Ben’ mean? I heard of it very often.


Zoe:  ‘Xiao Huang Ben’ is a kind of health certificate validating the holder has had vaccinated against yellow fever and the like. It is required to enter Kenya. And as a matter of fact, it is used commonly in many African countries. It is recommended that you get vaccinated in advance, as most vaccinations take a week to come into effect.


Author: Any other points to note apart from this ‘Xiao Huang Ben’?


Zoe: One more thing, in the visa, customs will write down your duration of stay upon arrival. Therefore please clarify the length of stay with the customs clearly.


Take ‘tourist visa’ as an example (duration can be up to three months). If you do not specify the terms with the customs, they may only fill the duration as one month. You might be asked to pay tips, but there are also chances they grant you 3 months of stay without even asking.


Author: Luck plays a great part. Let’s move onto luggage, what did you bring to Kenya.


Zoe: Luggage items vary with person, though there are few essentials readers might want to consider.


  1. casual outfits for daily usage and sneakers (it also depends on the weather forecast, and your planned itinerary)


  1. medicine (depends on your physical condition. Also advisable to pick few preventive medicines, or perhaps some ‘Jing Sang Zi’(Chinese Lozenges))


  1. bed sheets (depends on your personal circumstances)


  1. Plug converter, electronic accessories (cell phone, charger, camera …)


  1. for girls in particular: sunscreen and skin care products.


Author: sounds fairly sensible. Though you might want to elaborate more on the choice of ‘Jing Sang Zi’.


Zoe: The air quality in Nairobi is not that promising. I often felt dizzy and uncomfortable walking along. Not sure if ‘Jing Sang Zi’works but believe it would be of some help (laughter).


Author: What are the 3 most practical items in your list?


Zoe: Computer (for work), flip flops (for everyday usage), camera.


Author: And the 3 products you wished you have brought?


Zoe: ‘Jing Sang Zi’, ‘Jing Sang Zi’, ‘Jing Sang Zi’ (laugher)


Author: Lots of love indeed (laughter). So here comes to an end of today’s interview, we shall continue on next session the following week.