Like all good sagas, there should be a second following piece. This one is no different. So, there I was, finally back in Ulaanbaatar. I was feeling more relaxed as the visa had been stamped into the passport and a residents card/work permit had been given to me. Legal at last I thought. I had organised back in early June to fly to Seoul for the Naadam Holiday in Mongolia. Naadam is an annual three day holiday, occurring 11, 12 and 13 July each year. It is perhaps the second oldest set of sports events, having been running for 800 years or so. It is a celebration of the three manly sports, wrestling, horse riding and archery.
I had checked with the office and they confirmed that there would be no more problem with my visa so I went ahead and booked a flight out of Mongolia to Seoul, to catch up with my old gaming buddies there. The flight left at 7:25 in the morning so my faithful translator and Aide Confidante, Baggy, picked me up at 5:15 am. We headed to the airport, had a cup of coffee, bid farewell to each other and I headed into the departure area. Baggy headed back to his apartment.
“I’m sorry sir, you do not have an exit visa” said the immigration lady.
“What do you mean I ‘do not have an exit visa'” I asked.
“I’m sorry sir, you should apply for an exit visa to leave the country – your visa is for a single entry only”.
“Er, so I cannot go to Seoul today”.
“Just a moment sir, I will get the supervisor”.
The supervisor arrived and checked my passport, and told me that I only had a single entry visa and no exit visa (my first visa at least had an entry and an exit). He told me not to worry though, he could fix one up for me at the airport. We went to his office and I filled out a visa application. He charged my $40 and gave me a receipt and a visa and wished me a pleasant journey.
“Er, how do I get back into Mongolia” I asked.
“When you get to the airport here, tell them you need to get another entry visa and they will fix you up” he helpfully noted.
“OK” thinks Thomo and heads out of the country. I had a very pleasant few days in Seoul (sweated a lot as it is summer). Caught up with some old friends and did some shopping at the book stores and hobby stores.
Time to return to Mongolia. Thomo heads out to the airport and thinks, “hey, wait a minute, airlines do not let you onto flights unless you have valid visas to enter the place you are travelling to”. I arrived at the airport and headed to the check-in counter.
“Sir, you do not appear to have a valid visa for Mongolia” notes the pretty check-in lady.
“Ah, that’s because it has all be messed up back in Mongolia, the Immigration department there has a visa ready for me on arrival” says Thomo hoping that those words and his natural charm works. They didn’t.
“No sir, there is no valid visa there and Australians need a visa when travelling to Mongolia” said the pretty check-in lady.
“Mongolia is a little less formal than other locations and all this will be fixed on arrival at Ulaanbaatar’s airport” tried Thomo. Alas, to no avail. She called her supervisor over, a 50 year old man. A great deal of conversation was traded between them until I looked at the supervisor and in my best Korean said “My girlfriend, I am missing her” and smiled.
“You are Australian?”
“If you get deported it is your expense, let him board!” The supervisor then shot me a beaming smile and I was through and on to the flight.
I arrived at Ulaanbaatar and approached the immigration lady. I gave her my passport and said “I need to get a visa on arrival so that my visa problem can be sorted out tomorrow”.
“You do not have a valid visa” she said.
“I know, it was stuffed up – I need to pay $40, get a visa on arrival and have this all sorted out tomorrow – here is my resident card and here is my ID card from Khan Bank.”
She just stamped my passport and let me in. I can now report that this issue is finally closed. My visa is multiple entry and exit and is set to expire in May 2006 (not August 2005 as the last one was). The resident card is correct and all is well and legal finally … except that now I only have one page left empty in my passport so will need to work out how to get the passport replaced from Beijing without travelling to Beijing (the visa to enter China will totally fill the passport and not allow any further stamping.
Maybe there will be a part three – but I hope this is the final installment.