I have been dreading the visa application process for weeks now, and today was the day of days. After about an hour of stumbling around D.C. I found my way to the Chinese embassy/consulate and prepared for battle. I arranged every paper, taped my passport photo perfectly on the application’s picture, combed my hair in the bathroom.
Once my number was called, it took less than five minutes. The consular officer was a friendly woman who didn’t ask many questions and offered me same-day processing. So, after three more hours spent mostly at a wierd Smithsonian-sponsored gaelic festival on the Mall, I returned and collected my 1-year multiple entry visa–just as I had requested. Compared to some of the horror stories I’ve heard about Chinese bureaucracy, the process was remarkably easy.