Are government bureaucrats the same the world over? On Thursday, we headed up to Seattle to turn in pieces of paper we could not read in the hope that fancy stamps would be placed into our passports. After getting the run-around and entering various downtown skyscrapers, we found the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Barely a nod greeted us as the man behind the thick glass windows passed out a form. "Fill this out."
Of course, the forms were not filled out to his specifications but he finally accepted them with a large fee that we had not anticipated. Then, the somewhat expected surprise. "Come back tomorrow at 3:30. Visa ready then."
Hmmm, what in the world were we going to do in the city of parking at $10/hour? We headed east towards the mountains. Seattle traffic is abysmal but we finally got out of town and followed the Skykomish River. Eventually, we turned onto a forest service road and continued driving on a decent, dirt road. As dusk began to take over, we found a small turnoff and a place near a creek to set up camp.
The next morning, knowing that we had to burn lots of time before returning to Seattle, we found a beautiful hike through second growth up to a lake. Enough time was not burned. We got to the Visa place at 1:30 wishfully thinking that we would be given the visas and leave before Friday afternoon traffic got crazy. Nope. The man was again at work. Looking through the thick glass and without even a hello, he peered down his nose and tapped his watch, "3:30."