Now I have made it out of China. Thanks to all the nice people that worked so hard to get me through the process! I appreciate it very much!
Calling in All Favors ??
So, I was supposed to fly out of China today to meet my family in New Zealand on Air New Zealand. When packing for the airport, I discovered my passport had been stolen! I can’t believe it… this has never happened and made me feel totally lame.
Now I am stuck here in Room 1716 of the XiangDa International Hotel (not the one where my passport was stolen). The problem is that it could take up to two weeks (or more!) to get a new Visa out of the country! Madness!
I have now experienced a new level of bureaucracy. Wait till you hear this.
I started at by finding my way to the US Embassy in Beijing because I figured the US Consulate could help get me home. There was a big picture of Hilary Clinton on the outside (seriously), so I knew I was in trouble from the start (seriously).
Outside the US Embassy were a ton of Chinese people. A ton. They seemed to be waiting for something while sitting on bags, shuffling about holding plastic sacks of whatnots, and this sort of thing. After wading through some (with all my luggage, mind you), I got up to a rather serious looking Chinese guard. They are all rather serious, really… they don’t hire guys that look like William Hung (of “She Bangs” fame).
Anyway… I have a VERY VERY long story to tell but I am mentally drained… After some serious form-filling-out and an interview with a very nice customs official, I was given a new 3-month passport. So despite my worry about the US Embassy, I actually got my new passport in about 3 hours! Great! But now, the problem is the Visa.
To get the Visa, it can take from 5 to 10 business days. This is infuriating because I already got a Visa, and I even have a copy of it. But this is useless. I don’t know why! It was just a sticker in my passport, and I have a photocopy of it. The Visa has a unique number, which happens to be the same on my photocopy! Anyway, I don’t know why it just doesn’t just key off the Visa number, and they can update their 1960’s system when I exit the country.
To get the new Visa, I need to visit Public Security Bureau (which was closed right at 5 PM when I arrived) and take: 1) The Lost Report issued by the Exit/Entry Department (a Department within the PSB), 2) a police report by the local police department, 3) One photocopy of the lost passport (thank Mao I have one!) 4) Temporary Residence Certificate (don’t ask… this is an annoying document to get), 5) an Introduction Letter by Relevant Parties (huh?) and 6) One 2-inch photo.
Now, I can get all this stuff, at major annoyance, but it’s confusing as to WHY I even need to do it just to leave the country! Why can’t I just use my existing Visa number? t’s just that I’ve never felt so trapped by absolute nonsense… especially while my family is waiting on me…
I promised the kids I would hug them in the airport when their plane landed in NZ… dammit.
Mid-Daily Photo: Hangin’ out in China