Chocolate Socialist (braisedbywolves) wrote,
Chocolate Socialist

Australia Day 0

Day 0 started properly on Day -2, last Wednesday, when Jen mailed me to say "So it turns out that you need a visa to go to Australia, they're easy to get on their Immigration website". I duly filled in my details and got my receipt of application.

The next day, I checked with her whether she'd received an indication of when the visa should arrive, and she said she'd got it within minutes. When I got home after work I rang the Australian Immigration people, and found out on the first instance that if they can't take your call, they'll just dump you off.

The second time I got the warning I had been fearing - can take up to 10 days, do not travel without it. I rang back a few hours later and reached the same lady, which was both embarrassing and suggestive of questions about staffing levels for what must be a fairly crucial service.

Anyway, she couldn't answer my main question - was there an active problem with the application or was it just in the (statistically small) pile that were selected for further examination - but she sent me the email of the expediting requests office, which I emailed feeling a little guilty. Reading what I do in the papers about Australian Immigration, I know that "my girlfriend may have to start her holiday without me" is unlikely to be in the top half of the most abject pleas they receive.

And then I woke on Friday and there was no mail, and I rang Jen and let her know. I came out at the appointed time with all my luggage, knowing that the chance of a reprieve was quite low (as it was into the Australian night by then).

And so I waited with her through the long long line, both pictures in misery. If someone got to look at the application on Monday in Australia, I could wake to a confirming email, and then go buy another ticket out and join her on Tuesday evening in Sydney - that was pretty much the best case.

And then we got to the top of the line and I left her to check in, and she called me back, as the puzzled agent had asked why I hadn't just bought a visa at the ticket service desk. It turns out one of the factors that can shield your application from the sight of whatever claw had plucked mine from the virtual mailbag, is "here is a receipt that this guy definitely paid us £40".

And then there was a rush for the delayed plane, and when we got to KL another rush for the next plane (which was also delayed as half its passengers were with us) and then we were in Sydney for Saturday evening and the very long Day 0 and its emotional rollercoaster was over.

I only slowly unwound over the course of the day as more steps confirming that this might actually work came through - the first then the second boarding card, the electronic machine at Sydney that scans your passport and gives you a slim printed slip to hand in with your customs declaration. As we were waiting to pick up luggage, just before handing those in to the agent who dropped them unread into a basket, my phone went ping and I got an email confirming the success of my visa application.
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