I am so excited to share my newest item in my Etsy shop. They turned out even cuter than they were in my brain late last night. I spent half the night and all of today getting them out of my head and onto the iPad. How cute are they !
I made two different versions so far. There are about four more half started so I could get the idea out of my brain. Those will be coming soon to the Etsy shop.
Hope you enjoy them. They are perfect for little things you want to keep track of, out of your regular planner. Diet and Exercise, Brain Dumps, Names and Addresses that keep getting lost in the clutter of everything else, just anything you want to keep up with in a cute little way, out of your regular planner. This is the way to go.
Only $9.99 in my Etsy shop.
My husband and I have a bucket list. We pretty much sit around on our day jobs and do the things that are required of us, but secretly in our minds we are always thinking about where we will go next.
Once we decided that we were going to just go straight to the top of the bucket list and clear off China (the number one must do thing on our list) it became a rush to the airport for us. That’s pretty much how most of our trips happen. One minute we are dreaming and the next we are booking tickets.
I admit that this one has taken me a little by surprise in the budgeting. At this moment, I am about $1500.00 over budget on what I thought it was going to cost.
One of the things I most tell people when they ask me about trip planning is to allow a markup for the things you don’t know. Something like 20-25% usually will cover it for us. This trip has, however, exceeded that for sure.
I suppose, it probably speaks to my inexperience that I didn’t budget in for the cost of a visa to either China or Cambodia. Within a week of our purchasing our tickets we realized we needed to get our butts in gear fast to round those up.
We used a company called Travisa for getting the Visa in China. We live in West Virginia so the nearest offices for the visa would be Washington, DC. I considered driving there myself, 6 hours one way, but in the end, did the math and determined that my lack of experience with the process could result in my having to drive there, do it wrong, drive home and then pay the company to do it. So I bucked up and ordered the kit and sent our passports to them the next day.
The way it works is fairly simple. Pay them the fees, print and fill out all the papers that they send you, sign everything and put all the required documents with the forms and your passports (good for at least six months past the date of travel) and drop it into the Fed-ex box and wait.
The wait was only 24 hours before our first communications came back. The company does a fantastic job keeping you updated on where you are in the process. Today the lady informed me that our bill was ready and the visa should be ready by next week and once payment was cleared they would ship our visa and passport back to us by overnight delivery and we should be ready to go. (Did I mention the wait part?)
In stark contrast to that, the Cambodian visas were a much simpler process. I used this website and filled out the paperwork online and provided everything, including a digital version of our passport photo for the visa and paid the fees associated. Within an hour, I had both mine and my husbands visas applied for and within 10 hours I had both of them printed and in my hand ready to go. You can apply for a Cambodian Visa at the airport when you land in the country but because neither my husband or I understand the language we try to take care of everything that we can in advance of a trip to a country that will be hard to communicate in.
The visa for China has not been approved yet but hopefully we will have it in hand this time next week and I can go back to sleeping at night instead of refreshing the page just in case they send me an email for any more information that I haven’t already provided.
When you apply for a visa for China you need to provide quite a bit of information. I was actually pretty impressed with their system and how much information they required for a tourist to visit the country.
- A US Passport that is good for at least 6 months longer than your trip dates. I imagine always that is because if heaven forbid something happens and you get sick and stuck in their country or some other unforeseen set of circumstances should happen that you didn’t get home on time you would still have a passport that was valid when it was time to come home. Yikes, lets don’t think about that.
- A list of every single place that you will go, sleep and be during the trip. You provide these and they literally register you with the US Embassy in the places you will visit so that you are accounted for while in the other country with both the other country and with the American government. This makes me feel safe in several ways.
- A copy of your flights, tickets and hotel reservations, etc.
- A letter of invitation from the person who has asked you to stay with them or visit them and all sorts of information on that person are visiting them, if that is the case. I didn’t have to do this because of course, I don’t know anyone in China.
- They ask about your history, family to contact in emergencies and all the normal stuff that you would expect as well. Several questions asked what your plans were and why you wanted to visit China. That was not hard to answer since there are so many things that are amazing in China.
- You had to provide a passport photo. We got those made at our local CVS store. You had to send that in with the packet and I assume they use that to put your photo on the visa that goes with your passport for the trip.
FEES FOR THE TOURIST VISA TO CHINA
- 140.00 China Tourist Visa Consular Fee
- 140.00 China Tourist Visa Consular Fee for my husband
- 25.00 to register with the US Embassy in all the places that we will visit
- 164.00 China Tourist Standard Travisa Fee
- 164.00 China Tourist Standard Travisa Fee for my husband
- 44.00 UPS Next day Air returning the passports and visas to us
- 16.52 Consular Processing Fee for speeding up the process
- 38.00 Shipping label from us to Travisa
- 40.00 Passport replacement fees for in case they are ever lost while traveling
Bringing the total for the Visa for visiting China to a whopping $771.52 ! That is as much as a cruise to the Bahamas on a sale weeekend ! Wow, right.
First, I would say, I love a country that makes it as hard as possible for people to just wander into it and cause chaos. So, I applaud China for that part. I sometimes wish it were far harder for people to just stroll into America without having to tell the government where they are going and who they will talk to every second. I think if we had more of that, maybe there would be less terrorism. However, it really was a huge cost that I wasn’t planning for so yikes on that part.
Fees for the Cambodia Visa
- 36.00 Visa fees for each of us total & pretty much instant approval & printing
Hopefully, all will go well and I will update this post in a week to say how the whole process plays out and if we will be leaving for our trip to China next month with a Visa in hand. Fingers crossed….
Less than a week later…
We got our passports and China Visa back today. They put a visa into the inside of our passports and sent them secure back by fedex. We are all good to go and have our paperwork in order for both the Chinese and Cambodian legs of the trip. Exciting.
I will post more of every stage of the actual trip at a later date, once I have all the details lined out and figure out what we are doing each day.
Over the last couple years we have been blessed to get to travel. I have seen so many amazing things, I can’t even count. But the list of things that we still want to see is far longer than the list of ones we have already enjoyed.
The Great Wall of China is always at the top of a bucket list. So we have decided to take one last trip this year to mark that one off while we are still able. I know, it sounds like I think I wont have enough time to see everything. My 13 year old son said “Mom, are you sure that you don’t have cancer or something that you are not telling me” when I told him that we were going to China.
I don’t feel like I am in a hurry. But I do feel like when I leave this world I am going to not have gotten to see all the amazing things that I want to see.
The truth is, so many of my friends and family say to me, YOU ARE CRAZY FOR GOING THERE when I am planning trips. Or, I AM NEVER GOING THERE, is pretty common as well.
I was around 45 when I started traveling with my husband and I cant tell you how much the experiences have changed my every day life. When I eat, I have a new found appreciation for all the many choices that I have in America. When I drive my car, I find myself praying while driving, thanking God for the opportunities that I have had and the freedom to go where I wish, when I wish.
Every aspect of my life has been altered by the time and sights I have seen while traveling.
And Bill likes to say that good travel makes you want good travel. I have a sign in my bedroom that says, Travel is the only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer. That’s so true.
We can hardly wait for our November trip to China. I have been hard at the planning stage and almost have it entirely figured out. When I first started traveling I remember how scared I was. I still have moments that I have fears. But the rewards always out weight the stress or worry. Sometimes, we get lost. Sometimes, we can’t understand what people are saying. Sometimes, I even cry. But it is ALWAYS worth it for the experience.
Our Bucket List Life
Our list of thing to see in China:
- The Great Wall
- Beijing City
- The Forbidden City
- The Temple of Heaven
- Tiananmen Square
- The Avatar Mountains
- Tianzi Mountain Cable Car
- Fenghuang City
- Hauihua & Changsha
- Guilin and the Li River
- Angkor Wat in Cambodia
The current bucket list items is as follows:
- The Great Wall of China
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Machu Picchu in Peru
- The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
- Petra in Jordan
- The Red Sea
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa
- The old city of Jerusalem & places where Jesus lived
- Berlin and the Berlin Wall
- Run with the Bulls in Spain
- Go to the Cannes Film Festival in France
- See the city of Naples and visit Mt Vesuvius
- The City of Pompeii
- Visit the Amalfi Coast in Italy
- Cinque Terre Point
- Go to Ireland
- See Edinburgh
- Visit the Krampus Parade in Austria
- La Biennale di Venezia Arsenale in Venice, Italy
- Visit Seville Spain and Semana Santa: Bellavista
- Visit the Day of the Dead in Mexico City
- Galapagos Islands
- Hermitage Museum
- The Haag Museum
- Stay in an Ice Hotel
- Go on Safari in Africa
- Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro (And a visit during the time of the Carnival Festival)
A few things we hope to see eventually:
- Channel Tunnel, Strait of Dover
- CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario Canada
- Golden Gate Bridge in California
- Panama Canal
- Washington State & Mount Rushmore
- Victoria Falls
- Mount Everest
- The Great Barrier Reef in Austrailia
- The South Pole
- The Amazon Rainforest
Some of the other amazing things we have already seen:
- The Roman Colosseum
- The location of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia
- The Pyramids of Giza & The Great Sphinx
- The Belize Barrier Reef
- Hoover Dam
- The Grand Canyon
- Milan & The Last Supper
- Split in Croatia
- Olympia and the first Olympic Stadium
- Athens, The Acropolis
- Carnevale Venice
- Bath, England
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Turks and Caicos
- San Juan Puerto Rico
- St Croix
- St John
- Cockburn Town
- Key West Florida
- The Bahamas
- Cancun Mexico
A few things out west we want to visit:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Mount Rushmore
- Redwood National Park
- Antelope Canyon
- Burning Man Festival
- Petrified Forest
- South Rim of the Grand Canyon
- Hoover Dam (Again)
- Lower Antelope Canyon
- Bryce Canyon
I think everyone has a bucket list, right ? Ours keeps growing. We see new things in books and movies and before you know it the list needs revisions. I hope when my life is over there will be many more things that I clear from this list. But if I have to leave this life sooner than expected, I am so grateful for each and every single thing that I have already gotten to see.
My husband is a talented writer. He writes kids books, adult only scary books with somewhat of a twisted view of things, comics, graphic novels and sweet poems and so much more. I am always amazed at the things he writes. He really doesn’t have a specific type of writing. He can write something about a sweet lover one minute and a zombie eating his children the next. I love to watch him create. Check out his work at www.BilRichardson.com.