My Chinese visa is supposedly ready for pickup tomorrow. Ah, the constant finagling for valid visas. Our situation has always required a good bit of leg work since we don’t have employers sponsoring us in Shanghai. In the past, we eked by on tourist visas (although my Big Blue visa did grant me one year of travel freedom): John certainly left the country often enough on business to renew his paperwork in the States. This year though, we finally have the system down. Earlier this month, John obtained a multi-entry business visa through an agent in town; I, a newbie student, am set to receive my coveted multi-entry student visa manana.
The visa bureau moved this year from Puxi (west river) to Pudong (east river). As with the former location, the new one is also inconveniently NOT located near the subway station. Given the trek out to Pudong will likely take an hour plus, I think I’ll give the bureau an extra day to make sure my stuff is processed to completion. Yes, my slip says Jan 24 for pickup, but I’ve been burned far too many times. Better just wait one more day and save me a second trip. All’s good, because anyway John and I are taking Wu Ayi out to lunch tomorrow for Chinese New Year. A sort of thank you lunch for putting up with all our slop and grime. Poor woman. She works her butt off, and every visit requires major damage control. Around here, we’re always in crisis mode.
I was on the phone most of today booking travel again. John’s slated for another 4-week trip to the States. I actually found a kickass agent with great US-China fares (about $400 cheaper than Travelocity!). And this lady was with the program: prompt email, the Sabre Travel interface (which is awesome– allows me to download the itinerary into Outlook), credit card purchase, PLUS e-ticketing. Such a breeze, unlike my booking experience earlier this afternoon when I was on the phone calling a dozen local agents for quotes to Taiwan.
This damn political tension between the mainland and Taiwan is such a nuisance. The trip would be such a quickie two-hour direct flight, but no siree, instead it’s a frickin’ 5-6 hour pain. And thanks to crossing borders twice, both legs are essentially international fights– damn expensive and a pain for visas. I mean, come on. There’s plenty of bad blood between China and Japan. Do you see them implementing some asinine, roundabout route from Shanghai to Tokyo? Nope. A simple 2-3 hour direct flight. Just $250 USD. Tickets to Taiwan? About $500. And for what, so I can twiddle my thumbs for an hour at the airport in HK or Macau? So lame. Sigh. Oh well, what can you do? It’s the biggest holiday of the year, my parents are in Taiwan now, and I haven’t seen my grandfather in two years. Have to just bite the bullet and go. At least I’ll get to load up on my favorite Taiwanese treats: pearl milk tea, dou hua (豆花), and green mung bean slushies. Yummy!