I was looking for a place 3 months ago and received this email from this scammer (emily brenard <email@example.com>) after enquiring about further details:
"Apartment located at No.8 Beicangpo, Beimen Street, Kunming 650021, China, The apartment is clean and fully equipped with a lovely kitchen, washing machine, bathtub and internet. Each flat is furnished with a double size mattress, reading table and wardrobe . It is located in central neighborhood.The room cost 4000rmb per month which includes the cost of utility plus a security deposit of 5500rmb . The security deposit is refundable at the termination date of the lease contract . You can write me an email for further information . Thanks and hope to hear from you soon"
I informed her/him that it was too expensive and my budget was around 2000, to which they replied all that mattered was that I was interested in the place. This set off warning bells for me and I told them so and did not communicate further with them.
A few days later I saw another ad under a different name, to which I responded, and received the same email as written above, except that the price was down to 2000 and the deposit was much less. I did not respond to that email.
I hope this provides some more details for apartment seekers about this particular scammer.
Mr. H, I was in Luang Prabang on a visa run around 3 years ago. There was no embassy there at that time, but a few small travel companies offered a visa service.
This entailed giving them your passport, and paying a fee, depending on the speed of the visa application. I payed $100 American for a 3-4 day service, if memory serves. So, yes, I handed over my passport to a complete stranger (travel agent) who had someone go to Vientiane and process my visa.
When they came back, I found they had given me a 3 month tourist visa, although I was only looking for 1 month. I was very happy about the results, but very nervous about the process. However, everything turned out well (aside from the steep price).
There's only one main street in Luang Prabang where most of the hostels/hotels and western style restaurants are located and this is where you can find the travel agents (where the bus drops you off, so no need to stress). If you want to take a chance and try it, I leave the choice up to you. This was 3 years ago, so prices, procedures might be different or they might have stopped the service, so no guarantees. Otherwise, I have also been to Vientiane for a visa, which is doable.
I just spoke with Shay at Lazy Bones, and he said he will be showing the games but isn't going to advertise it until he verifies the quality of the feed. So, there is one option open, even if the feed freezes from time to time. With a few weeks left, we could still see what's out there.
BTW, I love all the quick posts this thread has received. Keep it up guys (perhaps girls as well). :)
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Since my original posting (see below), Tim sent me an email apologizing and offering to make up for my poor experience. I am very impressed by his quick response and personal approach (although my response to him was less prompt). He also informed me that they will be talking to the manager to pass on instructions. All in all, a very professional yet friendly manner in dealing with an awkward situation. I'm very satisfied and have changed my rating accordingly (from 1 to 3 stars)....thank you, Tim
Beware your bill!
The last 4 times I have been to O'Reilly's, they have twice added an extra beer to my bill that was never ordered. Both times, it was a young chinese fellow with decent English (the bar manager, I believe) who tried to argue the point and was quite resistant to change the bill, providing a number of reasons and excuses that were not relevant to the situation. I don't know if this is a mere mistake or if something more pernicious is occurring. My gut reaction from these experiences is the latter, as the particulars of each encounter raised my hackles in how it was dealt with. Good beer, descent food, good atmosphere, but very hesitant to return.
How to get there: The entrance is not very obvious. On the corner of Beijing Lu and YongAn Lu (which is under heavy construction right now), you can see a Construction Bank of China. You need to walk along YongAn Lu, going east on the north side of the street, past the bank. 20-30 meters later you will be able to turn left (north) into a very small courtyard-like pedestrian area. This area has another bank and modern storefronts on the left and leads to one door in the north (maybe 10-15 meters) with the number 155 beside it, which is your destination. There is a guard sitting by the door who will let you in. Go to the elevators, to the left, and go up to the 5th floor. Exit the elevators to the right and then left up to the end of the hall...very easy to find. Door 507.
Hours of Operation: On the door, it states that it is open from 9-12 and 2-6 Monday to Friday. Closed on the weekends.
Cost: A single entry, 30 day tourist visa costs 390 RMB for 2 day service. (I went in on the 29th and they said it would be ready on the 31, and as Dan said, I should pick it up around 5pm.) If you want 1 day service it costs an extra 100 RMB. I didn't ask about other types of visas.
Service: I got there Monday at 2:00 on the dot and they were about 8 minutes late opening the doors. There were 2 other people there waiting with me. I ask for a visa form and filled it out in the office. This identical form can be found on their website and can be printed and filled out beforehand. The gentleman behind the counter didn't appear to speak much English so we conversed in Chinese. I waited at the counter for him as he worked on the computer for about 5-8 minutes, which I thought was a little rude although he seemed nice enough. I gave him 400 RMB, but he didn't have any change and so wrote on my receipt to return 10 RMB to me when I pick up my passport (a bit strange that they don't have change). When we actually got the business at hand, it only took 3 minutes. He only looked at my name, passport number, and the type of visa I wanted on the application form. He glanced at the other information (workplace, contact, employment, etc.) to see it was filled out but that was it. He wrote the receipt and away I went.
Overall impression: Why did I give it 4 stars? Despite all the little complaints, the overall objective of getting a visa was easy and (relatively) quick. I haven't pick it up yet, but I can't see it being too much of a hassle besides waiting a bit. I'll add further information if I run into major issues, but otherwise feel the 4 stars is fair.