One of the highlights of my day yesterday was a trip to the US Consulate in Hong Kong to get pages added to my passport. After a long walk from the ferry terminal we made it to 26 Garden Road, where the US Consulate is located. After going through a prison type gate we arrived to what looked like Disneyland. There was a line with maybe 200 people in it. I went up to the gentlemen at the entrance, gave him my US passport and told him I had an appointment, and voila, I was in. I felt like a high roller in Vegas…. except for the fact I was in an ugly government building.
On the other side of the 350lb. door was a security guard and metal detector. We then headed up the stairs, where I was helped by a lady that spoke in broken English. They have thick glass windows to “protect” the employees (I guess), so the lady had a microphone through which she communicated with me. I don’t think this lady understands the concept of amplification, as I’m pretty sure everyone in the building could hear what she was saying to me. Eventually she took my passport and told me to take a seat.
There were two seating areas. One seemed to be for US citizens, and the other was for foreigners. There were about a dozen people sitting in the US citizen area, and it was funny as each person got called up and got “yelled” at by the ladies that didn’t understand how loud they were. The problem was that they were asking for a lot of private information. One guy got visibly pissed off, and the lady said “Can you not understand me?” He responded with “Oh no, I can hear you just fine. As a matter of fact, I think everyone in this building can hear you.”
The best part had to be when this lady got called up, who just looked annoyed as hell. I would guess the last time she smiled was in 1920, when she was probably 12. I overheard her saying “I’m in Hong Kong three times a month. I work for United Airlines.” Ohhhh, how happy I was to be flying Cathay Pacific for once! Then the lady (loudly) asked her where she stays in Hong Kong, and the flight attendant discreetly handed the agent a sheet of paper which had the hotel address on it. While I understand flight attendants would prefer privacy, trust me, NO ONE would stalk this lady.
After about 20 minutes I was called up and my passport was finished. Overall it was an efficient process and an interesting experience. I think I need to start visiting consulates when I travel just for the hell of it.