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Published: April 28th 2008
Hangin with Mr Bass
We all hit tristan and sal's pad to catch up with the bass
Our facebook friends will know exactly what this blog is about. So, you can skip this paragraph. To everyone else: In an attempt to make the Olympics a happy and foreigner-friendly affair, the Ch***se Gov******nt (from now on know as 'Norman' - to save any more deportation attempts) is trying to kick out most of the 250 000 happy expats living in Beijing. The scary thing is - it's kinda working. So, of course, getting a new visa at this time is difficult. More than difficult, it's as difficult as trying to meditate whilst having someone put a hot poker up your nose. Yes, we said nose.
And, it's not quite over yet.
Let's start at the beginning and give you a rundown of this whole saga. Much bigger than the bicycle saga that devotees will remember. Jan 7th:
Our friend Dave gets a successful work visa. He makes his trip to Hong Kong for a few days (these are the rules) and comes back to work - no wuckers. Jan 14th:
Sof told that she is not qualified enough for a work visa, so she must do a TESOL course, because Norman has changed the rules.
Relaxin' by the pond
Singapore the first time
(Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Feb 6-10th:
The MOST painful 5 days of our lives. It should have been called LESE. Learning English as Speakers of English. All we did was learn how to speak english. Now don't get us wrong, this is an important skill for an english teacher, but not needed if you were born in Australia. Well, maybe if you were born in QLD. Anyways, Sof's knitting skills improved greatly over the few days. Feb 25th:
Sof submits all paperwork for her working visa to 'visa lady'. Feb 26th:
Zac is supposed to start his new job, only to be told he needs a different visa in order to do so. Feb 27th:
Zac gets in contact with a guy whose company gives foreigners visas, herein called 'Hubert'. In the past there has been no problems whatsoever. 18th March:
Zac gets employment permit and is supposed to complete his visa application. However, Norman changed the rules so he has to wait another week. 25th March:
Zac goes in to complete his application only to find that he has been screwed over by Norman again. Norman detains (not arrests) Zac
It could have been worse. Norman could have changed another rule, forcing us to pay to go to mexico to drink these.
against his will for 8 hours for a Chinese interrogation. Ouch. Whilst being interrogated, Zac learns that according to Norman's law: "People who are not under arrest are not allowed to leave, call their lawyer or call their embassy." Finally, Zac released without passport. Main reason? Hubert isn't white and is therefore suspicious.
Pizza for dinner - can't cope with anything else. 26th March:
Zac calls the embassy for help. What a waste of space. We'd (Australia) save a lot of money not employing diplomats, or whoever the hell they are, over here.
"So, you've had your passport taken away from you by the police. Is there anything else we can help you with today?" 7th April:
Zac called in by Norman and given 17 days to leave the country and get a new visa. However, Norman's law states that: "Due to the situation, Zac should have been immediately deported, fined 2000 kuai and refused entry for 5 years." Luckily, we had Dixon's law on our side and he saved the day. Yay for Dixon!!!!!!
Sof also got her boss to call the visa lady to tell her to get her arse into gear (she had previously
Slings at raffles
Singapore slings and many a peanut
ignored all calls, sms' and emails).
As a result of 'arse into gear', Sof is told that Norman needs more qualifications or a 3000 kuai bribe to get a visa. Unfortunately, Sof had no more qualifications. 8th April:
Sof writes a mean letter to HQ whinging about the beaurocratic inertia that had led this whole application to a standstill. Finally things get moving. The visa lady, of course, claimed that it was not her fault that this had taken 6 weeks instead of 5 days. Yes, she is a complete liar and a bitch. Sof manages to convince the company to pay her more for 2 months of work to cover the bribe, because of course the company can't legally give Norman that much money for "no reason". 10th April:
Zac spends a day putting together a massive application (thanks again to Dixon), and takes it to a ministry. A ministry is essentially a big department. The thing about this country is that it has soooooooooo many different ministries (the ministry of silly walks seems to be absent, however) that it puts Beaurocratic Inertia at a whole new level that just isn't experienced in Australia. Anyways, after
That tasted good. Not like the local variety.
getting to this ministry, Zac is told that he has gone to the wrong ministry, and that teachers have to go somewhere else, and hand in different forms. Bugger.
Now get this: The idea of the working visa is to get a residency permit. So you get a whole lot of documents together, and if the ministry says you're good enough, then you can apply for this residency permit. However, one of the required documents at this new ministry for the application is - you guessed it - a residency permit. That's right. In order to apply for a residency permit, you need a residency permit. Luckily a lawyer found a loophole. 11th April:
Sof told that everything is ok, and it will be processed in the next week. Now, she must leave China, and visit another country (not HK anymore) to apply for a visa because Norman changed the rules. Singapore is the new destination. 14th April:
Zac is told to leave on the 18th, not the 24th. Whoops, Norman made a booboo. Quickly book tickets for both of us to Singapore.
Not enough time for Zac to organise a work visa. Zac plans to get a
Our new garage in singapore
We wish! 3 ferraris, 1 lambourgini, 1 other car that we can't remember. Putting the millionaire marxists in this country to shame.
90 day tourist visa, which will keep him in China until we come back to Australia in July, when he can apply for his new work visa. 15th April:
Norman changes rules about getting tourist visas. 90 day visas no longer exist, and much much more paperwork has to be handed in. (Happy Birthday Dad) 17th April:
Sof told that she can pick up her paperwork, but must now go back to Australia to apply. Thanks Norman.
Rapid booking of flights for TOMORROW!
New plan: Beijing, HK, Singapore, Darwin, Melbourne, Darwin, Singapore, HK, Beijing. In 8 days.
Many phonecalls made to friends in Melbourne - yes, we will be in Melbourne for 3 days next week. 18th April:
Leave for Singapore. Due to increased activity on our credit card (we don't use it in China generally), our card is frozen and we can not buy a Sudoku book in HK. All is lost. What will we do on a budget flight? 18th-21st:
Relaxing by the pool with Charlee in Singapore, trying to forget about the possible stress ahead, infuriated that the chinese consulate is 400m from Charlee's pad and could have used it for our application a week earlier. 22nd April:
Melbourne! Consulate visit was the most stressful day since we left Australia. We stood in line for 2 hours, watching numerous foreigners have their applications rejected. Much yelling and angry faces. While in line, we realise that we're still missing more paperwork, but Tristan saves the day by printing out some more! The applications are lodged successfully with a little help from Zac's ability to flirt with Chinese women.
Fun times in Melbourne. A schnitty at the Espy. Woohoo! Duty free whiskey enjoyed all round! 23rd April:
Pick up visas. Phew.
BIG PARTY. Much food. Much wine. Much boy band dancing. (See facebook for all the details) 24th April:
Recover. Eat. Shop. Leave for Singapore. ( A BIG thankyou to Sal, Tristan, Ana, Chas, Steve, Kat, Clinton, Christine and Ferg for helping us out - and partying!) 25th April:
Arrive in Singapore at 3:35am. Bugger. Beg hostel to give us a bed at this time. Success! In all honesty, the girl was so tired, we don't think she had the energy to object. 26th April:
Back in Beijing. Pounding hearts as we sneak through immigration (smiling brightly and innocently) with Zac's "Requested to leave within 10 days" visa hidden elsewhere in his passport.
This was Stage 1. If we don't turn up on your doorstep, you know Stage 2 is probably going ok. But we'll keep you posted.
Now we all know your asking the same thing. Why bother? The short answer: We've found our place in this place. It's just a pity about Norman. It could be worse. The long answer: Buy us a whiskey and we'll chat about it sometime.
Z and S.
PS At least our passports look cool now with all the stamps and visas.
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