I just spent the last 10 days in Xinjiang (don’t worry, I took good notes for future posts), and I got home really late last night. After spending a little over 24 hours in Xi’an, I will be leaving tomorrow morning to spend the weekend in Shanghai.
Things I’ve lost these past six months in China: a bunch of earrings, two eye masks, my Lonely Planet book, and apparently, my sanity.
Margo and I had been talking about visiting Shanghai for a while, but the summer is so short it literally blew by us. We only have two weekends left!!! We were supposed to have today to rest and then our Chinese trip presentations on Friday, but we managed to convince Joe, who convinced Lu Laoshi to move our presentations to Monday. Then came the visa problem. I only have a 6 month visa and the six months are up… pretty much now. This morning, Joe and I went to the visa office, where we were informed that (confusingly) if you leave the country within the first six months of a six month student visa, your six months renew from the date you re-enter the country. So… super confusing but great for me, because that saves me $140. Had I needed to renew my visa, I would have been passportless for a week- meaning that I would need some sort of note to give to the hostel proving that I am allowed to be here instead of my passport. So that’s convenient.
Margo and I then met at the window on Shi Da Lu where you can buy train tickets. We were hoping to get an evening train that left tonight, and then we would arrive tomorrow afternoon; however, all trains for the entire weekend were sold out except standing room only! That would definitely not work for a 14-15 hour train. We then decided to look at flights, which were definitely more expensive but not ridiculous. I decided, “hey, I didn’t have to spend all my money on a visa today so… what the heck? Let’s do it”, and we booked our tickets to Shanghai.
I normally book my tickets in China through Elong, a discount website, but Ctrip had better prices for better times so we booked through them. Great until they sent an email a few minutes later telling us one of our flights was actually sold out. What?! We then received a phone call as we were trying to book a second flight and re-enter in all of our information. We eventually got our tickets, and after me receiving literally 500 text messages from these people, they called me, informing us that we would have to take photos of our passports and credit cards because we’re foreign. Super weird, but whatever. We sent them the email, and I was called a few hours later and informed that we also had to send them a hand-written statement saying that they have permission to use our credit card. Really?! We sent them all of the photos and continued packing and getting ready. Later on in the evening I received another phone call saying that this woman hadn’t received any of the photos. I then re-sent all of the photos to this woman, Margo had to forward me the passport photos off of her camera- and I sent them to the woman. Apparently only the signature email went though because I received another call an hour later. My email said both emails had gone though but she had only received one. Finally I laid it on this woman, yelling at her that we had been getting calls all day, obviously we are who we say we are, and that this is completely ridiculous. I was 10:30pm and we had to be up to leave at 6am for our flight. I guess I made my point because pictures or no pictures, we had our flight confirmed within 5 minutes.
So right now it’s almost 1am (whoops) and I need to be up in 5 hours to leave for the airport. I’ll hopefully be meeting up with Nate and his Shanghai friends (I know, more of Nate) who know the city much better than Margo and I do. But right now, I better go to bed so I can function tomorrow.
But to entertain all of you for now. Here is a photo of what I recieve on a daily basis from the maids in our dorm. On the few days Jia Lin wakes up before 1pm, the maids come in and take out our trash and make our bed, and they receive endless humor from placing my panda in different positions. Sometimes it’s on my pillow, other times it’s tucked in. Sometimes I leave them more pandas to experiment with. This is the all-time most entertaining placement.