For God's sake. I went to the Chinese embassy this morning to collect our visa's and passports. After going through 2 levels of security and waiting for 15 minutes I find out that you can only collect passports from 3 in the afternoon.
Returning at 3 I waited in an entirely empty room waiting for someone to notice that I existed. When they did notice I went to the "pickup window" but was ushered to the one next to it that was labelled something else. Fine whatever, there's one guy on the other side of the glass, what do I care? He gave me a printout that said I had to pay them 66USD quiet as a churchmouse. Annoying as it is to constantly be given costs in US dollars I have unfortunately become accustomed to it. I took this to a seperate window where I was informed that I had to, in factm PAY in USD. THere is also an additional 2USD "handling charge".
The most infuriating this about this is that Nepali citizens can pay in Nepali rupees! I mean of all the insane shenanigans. "Tell you what, tell me the exchange rate, I'll work it out and I'll pay you in rupees." The cheerful Nepali guy about 7 years younger than me said "Not possible sir, you must pay in dollars."
"Tara ma American hoina! But I'm NOT AMERICAN! I don't wander around with US dollars in my pockets! What am I supposed to do???"
Apparently, what I am supposed to do is go to Thamel and buy some US dollars to pay for our visas. I simply cannot comprehend why it must be this way. Are the workers at the Chinese Embassy / Consulate or whatever you call it going to go on a big trip to America to go and eat pizza on Broadway? Why in the hell would they want USD? Here I am in the Chinese Embassy, there's a mute Chinese man on one side of presumably bullet proof glass, there's one 18 year-old Nepali demanding money from me in a currecny I don't have, haven't seen since 2005 and which I am developing a rather serious hatred for. I even hate it when people call the stuff "greenbacks".
But here I am with no other option than to get the money as the Chinese government has our passports. So I go, I get the exact amount I was told I would need in USD at an annoyingly high exchange rate (the universe is conspiring again...) and return. Nepali dude it all smiles as he says "Ummmm...sir you are picking up two passports? That means there are two handling fees".
TWO HANDLING FEES! What does that $4 go to, can you imagine? Perhaps changing that money from USD to Chinese Yuen or Nepali Rupees I bet. What the hell is going on?
In an amazing turn of fortunes a new Nepali guy had arrived and magically procuded a $2 note from his pocket. I bought it off him and left with another docket that I had to return to the bulletproof glass and hopefully use to get our passports back. This time someone was actually at the pickup window. I went there only to be ushered again to the mute Chinese lad who printed something else out, went to find our passports from the pile sitting at the Pickup Window. As the older gentleman who was actually seated there watched on in approval. The mute lad signed some forms and checked some stuff all while walking around the older man who continued to watch in avid fascination before mute boy then returned to me, silently gave me our passports and I left.
To this moment I'm not entirely sure what happened but I hope someone was watching me the whole time having a good laugh.