Friday, August 29, 2008

Spontaneity and Unwelcome Surprises

One of the things we love about China is the short notice with which things can happen. Just the other day, a Beida representative booked a seat on the same return flight to Beijing that we were taking...on the night before the trip!

But there is a downside to all of this quick action. As I write this, I am sitting on the Te Liu (the "special" number six bus), heading out to the Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. This ominous sounding agency is where we need to go to get our health certifications, which we need in order to apply for our residency cards and work permits. Makes standing on line at the DMV sound like a piece of cake!

Now, there have been hints at various points along the way that a Chinese health check might have to occur. But, then, at like 9 pm last night, I received a text message from another university official (the unflappable Xiusha), saying that it is "urgent" for Desi and me to go take care of business...first thing in the morning! A quick call to the US Embassy confirmed the need to follow through on this.

So...here I am on the Te Liu . Are we heading in the right direction? We have been told, at various points in the past 12 hours, that the Bureau is located in two different parts of the city. (Have we mentioned that Beijing is not small?) In a few minutes, I will either be laughing at the craziness of Chinese life or cursing the ridiculous transaction costs of living and working here...

~Steve

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