This blog post has come about due to queries from one of my blog’s readers who is travelling to Jingdezhen this year. It occured to me that I hadn’t written much about visas, what to take etc so here it is, the first few Jingdezhen travel tips to make life a little easier for you when preparing to leave for China.
Get your invitation letter from a residency or artist
The Pottery Workshop – Jingdezhen (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
Apply to one of the artist residencies in Jingdezhen – for example Zhenrutang or The Pottery Workshop. Once they accept your application they’ll send you a formal invitation letter which you will need to include with your visa application (assuming you’re travelling from a country for which China requires a visa).
Zhenrutang residency, near Jingdezhen (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
It’s really important that you fill this out correctly and honestly. You can apply as a student or artist for example and from experience, applying as an artist hasn’t made a difference to the success of the visa application.
You can apply online and post your passport to the Chinese Embassy in your city if you are comfortable with that idea, otherwise I’d recommend making an appointment online as once you arrive at the Embassy, they’ll issue you a ticket so that your number is called as a priority. Twice I’ve applied this way and haven’t had to stay at the Embassy for any longer than about 15 – 20 mins.
Make sure you have all the relevant paperwork with you. Go through the checklist in the visa application to be 100% sure.
One last thing to include is a current photo of yourself (passport size image). Again, make sure it’s done properly and not a poor reproduction or a home printer job. If the Embassy staff are not satisfied with the smallest detail your application may well be rejected and you will have to reapply.
Getting organised before you go
Your visa application process (in Melbourne anyway) will take about a week so you can return to the Embassy and collect your passport with the visa in tact. Again, your visit there shouldn’t take too long – they’re certainly very efficient with their processing.
Be sure to check your passport is current. When you arrive at your Jingdezhen residency you’ll also be asked to check in with the local police – they’ll look through your passport and any forms the residency will ask you to complete too. The residency staff will usually arrange this for you or at least direct you to where you need to go.
Ask relevant questions of the residency where you’re staying, for example:
- What are beds like? Will I need to bring my own self-inflating mattress? (some beds are extremely firm and can take some adjusting to!)
- How far is your room from the bathroom? Some residencies are communal living with shared bathrooms and shared kitchens. If you’re one to get up during the night and you’re used to an ensuite or having breakfast on your own, you may need to think differently in this case.
- What meals are provided? You might well receive 2 or 3 meals a day, 6 or 7 days a week. So there will be times where you will either need or want to fend for yourself and dine out or stock up your own little pantry. You may like your own cereal, teas and allergy-free foods. Shopping at the supermarkets can be challenging if you don’t have anyone with you to translate or read any product labels to you. Put it this way… I bought what I thought was a cereal and actually enjoyed eating it for a couple of months – turned out it was baby food! There are bakeries you can walk to or access easily by cab, depending on where you’re staying, some of which you need to get to early if you want to get your hands on fresh ‘western-style’ baguettes and rolls.
- What tools does the residency provide? Usually there’s a limited supply of basic tools available for you to use, like sponges, turning tools, plaster slabs and batts. If you have favourite tools that you use at home or in your business, take them with you. There are plenty of tool shops in Jingdezhen and you can certainly add to your tool collection! Trimming tools sold at the shops for example are either the usual stainless steel, cheaper tools, or the expensive ‘Kemper’ style tools, that retail for about AUD$25 each – not cheap. Check what’s available and what you need to bring without weighing yourself down.
Indian printing blocks (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
There are other travel tips to include in my next blog – look out for that one.