Leaving Shanghai

Shanghai, thursday and friday, Pay first!

Suzhou

Without a proper ID we didn’t feel free enough to travel around, but we went to the impressive Apple Store and I bought myself an new iPod Touch. So I would have a device with wifi internet acces and a simple camera. Good service in the Store with free wifi. For the rest of time we were just hanging around waiting the time to pass by. On friday, the last working day before departure, I received the appropriate visa, valid for one week. Pay first! No long waiting, no further questions asked. How easy can it be?

It’s the uncertainty that bothers most. For instance when a bureaucrat wants to be strickt he could have asked us on friday ‘what is your residence now, because this paper says that you are in that hotel until wednesday’. And an e-mail from the airline with the itinerary, would that be okay instead of a paper flight ticket? Those thoughts kept bothering me. In theory a bureaucracy is supposed to give certainty with the rules, but in the whole process we kept expecting something unexpected because we didn’t know all the rules, who does?

Shanghai, saturday to monday, the big relieve.
The last two days before leaving, we made the best of our time left, visiting Shuzhou, in 38 degrees centigrade, the very beautiful garden of the humble administrator and the silk museum with nice old costumes. Until recently it was only possible to buy one-way train tickets. So, the first thing you did when you arrived in Suzhou was to buy a ticket for the train back to Shanghai. Now in Shanghai you can buy a roundtrip ticket with seat number. That saves time. Mondaynight at the airport we had a little hassle with the missing departure card that you get when you enter China and have to present when you leave. We were very happy entering the Airbus flying us back home.

Looking back
To get a replacement for a lost passport and visa it took us 8 days and in Shanghai 8 taxi-hours and 10 times to show up at six different office-windows. All in all we lost eight days of a trip that was so very nice until then. And everywhere we needed help, we got it. Nice people after all.
Looking back it’s easy to say that it was a hellish experience, anyway it was far from paradise or Shangri-La as people call it here.

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6 Responses to Leaving Shanghai

  1. thank’s for this blog.

  2. Roger Bosch says:

    Good thing your credit card wasn’t taken otherwise you’d be in real trouble. Try to get some contacts from your own country in the local area, in case you have no where else to go to.

    I lost my passport, money AND driving license in Shanghai in 2004, and my flight back home was the next day! With financial help of my local friend and understanding authorities I still made my fight, but it wasn’t a nice ending of what had been a perfect holiday so far.

  3. Ton Bakker says:

    All the times I visted China I had a belly bag, with all relevant documents, and in our luggage in the hotel , we both had copies of everything important ID, Passport , E tickets etc.
    Beter be save than sorry.
    Good point to put the link on Gele Draak , since you indeed , like Theo said, in holiday time you could forget these things.
    I always did have the best experience with helpfull Chinese.Ditch Bureaucracy can learn a lot of the Chinese….
    Greetings, Beijing 2008, Ton

  4. imminent china visitor says:

    Thank you very much for writing this. Losing important document overseas is a nightmare I wish to never happen to any traveler. I lost my wallet in Laos once, causing enough stress for a night. Luckily it was recovered the next day in local police station. It was nothing in scale compared to your horror story.

  5. Bertrand says:

    Morals of the story:
    1. Never leave your passport in a bag.
    2. If you MUST disregard point 1, never – NEVER – leave the bag out of sight.
    2. Always backup your photos.
    3. Scan your passport and documents and email a copy to yourself, giving you easy access to them from any internet point
    4. Always have some backup ID, cash and/or credit card stashed away for such situations.

    Thanks for the informative blog post.

    • RonaldPeter says:

      Thanks for the response, and others too.
      A good idea to email important copies. In China however I found out that I could reach my gmail account but NOT my hotmail account. And when you need a passport copy at a police station or consulate you usually don’t have access to the internet at that specific moment. So next time I take paper copies with me as well.

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