Finding Coz begins in Beijing – there’s a ten-year entry visa to be exploited, after all.
The first time I came to Beijing, it was for work. I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork to get a visa to China (with the added formality of a ‘letter of introduction’ from the people hiring me). I submitted it all to a visa application service.
A week later I had a full-page entry visa for China in my passport (and happily passed on the 220 euro fee to my employer).
I was spending nine days in China, and I had expected the visa to be valid for exactly that amount of time. The fine print told me otherwise: the expiration date was ten years down the road and valid for as many trips of up to 30 days as I wanted.
They must have sung my praises in the letter of introduction – a decade of travel to China! I figured it would be rude not to come back and get my money’s worth out of the visa I didn’t pay for. Congratulations, Beijing – my search for Coz begins with you.
The learning curve was steep my first time around, but I’m eager to put my heard-earned Beijing street-smarts back into practice.
- You won’t get far in a taxi without an address written down in Chinese. Such a valuable lesson, avoiding the taxis and taking the subway with its helpful English signs!
- Work put me up in a five-star hotel. Sample prices from the bar and the restaurant: Eight bucks for a coke, 50 for a burger and fries. As a matter of principle, I will avoid doing business with such brazen price-gougers this trip. In July, when I return for work again, I will dutifully respect my employer’s wishes to submit us to five-star highway robbery once more, but I cannot promise I will hold my tongue: “That price is preposterous! I will still charge it to the company card, but my goodness!”
- Frog legs, chicken feet, jellyfish salad. Bring ‘em on.
- People talk about the heavy hand of the law in China, and I’m afraid it’s true. No romping? Harsh.
- During my tour of the Forbidden City, I learned that more statues (up to 11) on the roof of temple indicate the prestige of the temple’s owner. Multiple-car garages, serving the same purpose, had of course not been invented when the temples were built.