Shanghai, thursday and friday, Pay first!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.
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.