it was a painful process. .
1st, we have to fill up a form on the computer. this form cannot be saved and it's online. after filling it up we have to print it on the spot. so we go to an internet cafe to make sure the cafe has a printer linked.
2ndly, go to the 'post office' to buy a kind of phone card that cost us$14. it is so good as described in their webpage that we can use this card to call the embassy in chile up to 8 minutes and the expiry date is 1year. the pain is, we have to find a good working phone.
3rdly. the 1st phone that we found was a littlebit soft. the chile public phone ( they specify which particular network to use) always eating up our coins. we are puting about s$0.20 per minute. we didnt standby enough coins when we call. Sam has to rush to some shops to get coins. the local shop usually dont change coins. at last, after 10minutes, i got the operator. to book for the appointment, they will ask for my name, address in chile, phone number in chile, passport number, email address. this is real hard. by spelling out my name thro this soft spoken phone, i kept shouting. we were calling by the main street and when a bus passed, i couldnt hear a thing. then they ask me which is the 1st name, the last name and blah blah. for them, its quite difficult to understand the structure of a chinese's name. don't forget, the meter is clicking. this us$14 last for 8 minutes, excluding the per minute public phone charge that Sam has to put the coins in. For the address, they need to fill in every columb. we are staying in santiago central. they wanted to know the small zone of the city. i told them santiago central and she said no, i must have it. i just bluff something out because i know it is not important. she is just being not flexible. then it comes to email address. ohhh... i have to spell everything. its hard to spell because the english pronouncation is different from the spanish. like 'V' the spanish pronuced as 'Bee'. just before anything, the public phone stop taking in coins and the line was cutted! i nearly had a stroke on the spot.
we ran across many streets to find a good working phone. again i called and made a shout over the phone for providing all the infomations again. luckily i had a better operator.
back in singapore before the trip, when Sam booked for the appointment, everything was online. isn't all the usa embassy in the world worked with the same system?
4thly, it cost us 2 x us$131 = us$262 for the visa application, regardless if the visa was approved or not. we had a US$500 travelers cheque. the next morning we set out to change the travelers cheque (TC). Sam read in a guide book (2004) that the tc could be changed easily at an address. we took a train, walked all over and found that address. no... they no longer change tc. we went to HSBC Santiago, somewhere near. along the trip when i show my tc to any bank, they refered me to go hsbc because the hsbc logo was printed on this american express tc. at hsbc, they told me that they dont change tc. go to a 'casa de cambio', a change house. we ran to that change house, its like a private owned money changer that accept tc also. the rate is very lousy as compared to the bank rates. we will lose money (about the price of one night stay in a hostel)! after running here and there, we decided to use our ATM for withdrawing the cash.
we had to go to the 'post office' again to tell buy a kind of cashier's order paid to the embassy.
5th, we prepared about 34 pages of supporting documents like:
bank account statues
my apartment's (in singapore) value
our marriage cert
my education cert
our planned route in usa
for male, im required to fill in another form which questions like: have you ever been specilized train in any firing arms or weapon? if yes please indicate. then another one was the list of countries i visited for the last 10 years. in the list, there is Iran and Pakistan. i hope it wouldnt be too sensitive for them that we stayed in these 2 countries for almost 3 months.
the most important and strongest document is: an air ticket.
we checked the net on LA to sydney.
cheapair.com united airline/quantas
one way: us$915 us$1400
return: never check us$1000
how come they charge cheaper for a two way tickets?
then we took a taxi to the santiago airport to purchase airticket from the desk counter of american airline. (as recommanded by a fellow biker from germany, daniel.) that is our only hope. we reached the airport at 1210hrs. that AA counter was closed. the information counter said AA has an office at the next building. we went. its closed too! com'on! its a working day and at working hour. we went back to the info counter and update her. she told us to wait till 6pm and maybe AA will open again.
dissapointed, we walked out of the airport and look for the taxi that was waiting for us. he disapeared. i went in to try other counters. not many counters are selling airticket for usa-australia. there is one: quoted an one way, that cost $1200. forget it. my plan was to go back and book from the internet.
just as we were going out, the AA counter re-opens. i think it was lunch time but they just put a label: closed.
one way : us$1200
return (2 ways) : us$759
we bought the 2 ways ticket and only intend to use one way.
now i have to plan my date and route very carefully. the date has been set for departure from usa to australia and the location also has been set. no 'cock ups' has to be done. if we need to change the date, it will cost us$200 per person.
on the day of interview.... cut long story short, the officer checked our passport.
'oh.. u been to pakistan. did u go to that wagah border?'
because out of intrest, this officer had beed working in pakistan and made many travels around. so he understand us.
'hmmm.. u been to iran, how do u think of it'
i replied about the people there always mistaken me as jackie chan.
the officer laughed. it wasnt so tensed as compared when sam was interviewed in singapore alone. i wasnt allowed to accompany her in because i need no a visa.
this time we applied as 'a family' and both of us was standing at the counter.
we had so many documents to show him, the only document he wanted to see was only the newspaper article. i showed him the brazilian newspaper when we were at felipe's home.
YES! we got it! it was a multiple entry visa that last for one year!
not to be too happy, their web says it doesnt mean that if we are issued a visa, we were allowed to go into usa. the officer at the actual border will determine the entry.