I needed a new passport, and imagine my surprise when this procedure, which for most if not all other foreigners in Hong Kong means nipping out in their lunchbreak and filling out some forms, for me meant to trek to Guangzhou during office hours (2 to 4pm.)
As I said in that post, Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. So why is its consulate general in Asia’s World City … in a completely different city? Is Hong Kong in fact the only world city in the world where you need a passport to go and get a new passport? All right, so there is an office in hong Kong, where you can pick up your passport. But how unseemly! Not only do you think you’ve got the wrong address when you get to the floor and see “something Kou Group” from the corridor with the Norwegian symbol crouching in the corner as it were; when go inside you realise that the Norwegian consulate in Hong Kong is in fact a desk .
Richest country in the world. One desk.
So because the insanely busy staff at the Royal Consulate General in Guangzhou can only deal with the wild stampede of visa- and passport applicants from 2 to 4pm, you can’t nip up early in the morning and go back to work. And because I live quite far from Guangzhou, I thought staying overnight would be less stressful.
This is what 1 passport cost me:
Lost income: HK$ 2,800
Yep. HK$4,490 for a passport. Not only that. The consulate had increased the price of the passport without mentioning it on their website. Of course they don’t accept credit cards or HK dollars, so I had to trudge to a faraway bank to get more cash. AND, and this is somehow the worst – the photos I had spent 40 minutes and $50 getting, weren’t needed!!! Why? Because EU regulations say that the Norwegian government must use a special machine to make the passport, a machine which takes your photo and on which you sign your name.
Hallo? Norway’s not even in the bloody EU! So instead of a semi-OK photo I’d paid heaps for and had actually chosen, my passport now has a sweaty, angry, 4,490 dollars poorer scowl. So why did I have to bring photos? In case the machine didn’t work.
Fail, Norway. Fail.