Shanghai, tuesday at the Consulate
With the address written down in Chinese the taxi drove us in 50 minutes to the building of the Dutch Consulate. Many people waiting, we were the only whites. A very friendly Chinese looking, Dutch speaking girl helped us. I had to made a photograph first. She draw a map to get to a photograph store. Apart from the heat it was on walking distance. To my amazement the photographer retouched some sweaty spots on my face before printing. Back to the Consulate we did not have to wait long. She told us that my personal data would be mailed to my hometown for checking. There’s six hour time difference, so it was not sure that the answer would come before closing time of the office in Shanghai: 4 pm = 10 am in Holland. I paid the fee of 415 yuan. At 12 we were back in the hotel and tried to catch up some lost sleep. The hotel has a happy hour and we enjoyed that. At 5 pm Hill’s cellphone rang and the Consulate could tell us that my emergency passport was ready next morning. That message gave us a happy feeling. Then we went to the reception to ask for a statement of residence. I hardly spoke out the words: ‘As I told your colleague this morning, I lost my passport and now…’ I was interrupted. Is your room number 2718? We have a paper for you and we put a letter in your room to tell you that. And the receptionist presented the declaration of my residence wit a police stamp on it. These people do not only think with you but also think ahead of you. I’m still surprised: I received the paper I needed very much, but did not need to ask for it. How thoughtful. Back in our room we found the letter saying that the reception had a message for us.
Shanghai, wednesday at the Public Security Bureau
Three working days left before our flight home. At the Consulate the emergency passport was ready and we took off to the Exit an Entry Affairs of the Public Security Bureau, a big building in the Pudong area, about an hour drive with a taxi. I received a waiting ticket which said that 41 persons were waiting before me. After a while a lady came to me and asked to change her ticket with me because she was waiting for someone who was late. Now 17 before me. Half an hour later we could go to the window where I presented the police report, my new emergency passport and the declaration of residence. ‘When will you leave China? Well, two things no good: In paper from hotel is old passport number, now you have new passport, go back to hotel. And second, it takes a week to get the exit visa and when you depart on august 1 I must speak to my boss, so bring your flight ticket’. In these days of e-tickets that might be a challenge. At 12 we were back in the hotel. ‘We have to go to the police with this paper’ they said, ‘if you want you can wait in the lobby bar with free soft drinks’. These people are so very kind. I mean they went immediately to the police for the right paper. They didn’t have to do that. They have probably more things to do, but they put me in the middle of their service. Great! After half an hour we got a new paper and we went to the Public Security Bureau again.
We got there at 2 pm and it was less busy. Half an hour later we stood for the window, I said we’ve been here before but we had the wrong paper. When will you leave China? Go to 4. Window 4? Yes. That took only three minutes. There was a long queue with mostly white people waiting for window 4. The window of the chief. After a long time it was our turn. I explained what I wanted and was asked to fill in an application form for a visa. ‘Back in the room. under the screens’ she said. But also out of the row. With a filled in form and the photo of the day before I went directly to the window in front of the row. No one protested. This time no form was checked, not a flight ticket was asked. Just look in the camera and papers were put in an orange envelope. I think when you are at window 4 you don’t have to explain anything, they know you’re running out of time. I received a paper which said that the visa would be ready next friday. When we walked outside the building in the heat of Shanghai I saw the first smile returning in the eyes of Hillie. The stress was slowly melting.
(Final episode on “Leaving Shanghai”)