"Forget you lust, for the rich mans gold, all that you need is in your soul"
|YouTube Music Roulette|
I just finished my work week and I find myself sipping on a HANS Dry Beer (600 ml bottle 2.5 yuan or .50 Canadian) and playing music roulette on YouTube. I had Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd in my head so that song was easy to find. While it is playing there is a list to the right of songs to choose from. Pick one and see where that leads you. I will play my big 3 from Skynard as I am feeling a bit reflective at the moment. Simple Man, Tuesdays Gone and of course Freebird. My only rule is I have to chose from one of the 5 songs that are displayed. I can not scroll. I find this type of randomness quenches my musical soul. I also figured now would be a great time to reflect on how I got here and what it took to "finally" have all my documents and resources in place.
You have made the decision to move to China to live, work and explore, good choice. Depending on your personal situation things could be a bit different from mine however my experience fits right into the "normal process" if there ever was such a thing as normal when it comes to China.
|3 Month Visa|
In Nicaragua I showed up, my passport was stamped and away I went. Mind you I was on a 90 day tourist
visa and had to leave the country every three month but taking off to Costa Rica for a border run
is not the worst thing in the world. In Mexico it was 180 days so 6 months later you hit the road to Guatemala or if you were inclined the USA for your visa run. I had a long break so I went back to Canada. With China I walked face first right into my discomfort zone.
With my spanking new flash Bank of China bank account and Bank Card my final task is complete. It has not been without issues but they were minor and usually me waiting for one thing or another while I was itching to hit the trail.
|1 Year Working Visa|
It started as a simple conversation while living in Mexico. During the second semester a few of us were having beer on a Friday night talking about "what was next"
for each of us. Tom Webster
was heading to Peru, Jessica Reeves
was off to Indonesia, Lucy Andrew
was heading back to Australia, Dan Greenland
was staying in Mexico, Eric Silberrberg
was going back to NYC, Keane Orchard
had had enough of teaching and was going to bang around Europe, my Room mate Scott was heading to Colombia and I was mulling an offer to return to Honduras. The conversation was light and it is always exciting to talk about future plans. Randomly Scott said "have you ever thought about China"?
He had talked about working in Xi'an and how much he liked it. The more he talked about it and the drunker I got the better it sounded. So good in fact that by the end of the night I had sent an email to the school in Honduras declining their kind job offer. I had been in and around Latin America for the better part of 5 years so this little nugget of motivation was all I needed. Now I had to get it done.
Scott set up the introductions and during the semester I talked to the school a few times and set up a Skype Demo lesson for an IELTS SPEAKING lesson. They wanted someone right away but I told them I was committed to Mexico until the end of December. I received a "do not worry, the job is yours when ever you can arrive".
It was the good word put in by Scott that gave me the flexibility I needed. I was set to finish my job at Heslington, head to Cancun for a week then back to Canada for Christmas. I could begin my process as soon as I got back and figured I would be of moving heading to China by end of January at the latest.
|Residence and Health Certificate|
I prepared everything they needed which included my CV, TEFL Certificate, Trebas Diploma, Police Background Check, Passport Scan and extra photos and sent them off. The school would use these to process the required document in China that they would send back to me via DSL courier that I would then use to get my temporary visa. Everything was going smooth and then I was hit with Chinese New Year, the year of the Rooster. This massive holiday would delay my documents being sent to me by 2 weeks and they had not been approved yet by the Chinese Government. Hello February.
I received an excited email that my documents were approved and my Chinese documents would be sent within 3 days. Scans of the 6 documents had been sent as well. I received the tracking code 7 days later, but 3 days after that the DSL truck pulled into my driveway and I had them in my grubby hands, Feb 16th. Jubilation, I could leave in a week. All I needed to do was go to the Visa Processing Centre in Toronto and get it done. As I excitedly looked up the address and read through the process (for god sake read what you need and have to bring!) there was a bolded and capped NEED TO MAKE AND APPOINTMENT
which was followed by no phone calls, appointment made online only. S
hit! There is was staring right back at me. Next available appointment Monday March 6th. 10:00 am. Hello March.
Of course I did not learn my lesson and figured without issues I could get my appointment on Monday, get my visa by Wednesday and book my flight for Friday March 10th, so I did. Ironically, China Eastern had a weird half price sale for Friday the 10th, which I took as an omen of course. $425.00 Canadian to fly to Xi'an which is crazy if you thing about it. Regardless I tossed caution into the wind and booked it even though I did realize nothing about this process went as planned.
|Healthy and Normal|
The Monday arrived and Lynne
went with me to Toronto. I was glad I took the time to make 100% sure I had everything I needed because it was a shit show at the Visa Processing Centre. People without appointments, proper documents and in one case no identification begging, pleading and yelling that they needed their visa immediately. I watched this horror show while sitting patiently with a hot coffee waiting for 10:00 and my appointment. Fun Fact. The Visa Processing Centre does not give a shit that it is an "emergency"
or that you "did not know you needed this or that".
Make sure you have your shit together.
I was called to the window to get processing and 15 minutes later I was out the door. My visa would be ready on Wednesday. A return trip to pick up my passport and my backs were packed, I was leaving on Friday March 10th, approximately 11 Weeks from when I started the process. Little did I know that there was more to come on this administrative roller coaster.
Wheels down and 19 hours and who know how many time zones later I was in Xi'an, Sunday March 12th. You read that correctly. I left on Friday March 10th and landed on Sunday March 12th. Saturday March 11th will never exist for me. The day literally disappeared from the calendar.
|Money, Gas and Electric Cards, |
Apt Keys and Metro Pass
I have written about the jet lag, time change and health check process. Toss in a regional administration check get my residence card and a visit to another police station to process my full one year working visa brings me to April 14th. My final glorious agenda item was a bank account. So on Monday April 16th, approximately 3.5 months after I sent my first email I am sitting in my apartment, sipping my beer, listening to music and writing this post. Along the way I have started to work at my school, Forrest Gumped my way through the language, discovered fantastic historical sites and areas of this town, made new friends, lost my metro pass the day after I put 50Y on it ($10), got a new phone, had Internet installed, and look out my window every morning and think, "shit, I am living and working in China"!
All because of a few drinks in Mexico with friends I made on the road.
Here is the playlist that I enjoyed while writing this post.
Simple man - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Tuesday's Gone - Lynayrd skynard
Freebird - Lynayrd Skynard
More Than A Feeling - Boston
Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks
Dont Fear The Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
All Along The Watchtower - Jimmy Hendrix
House of The Rising Sun - The Animals
Riders on the Storm - The Doors
Paint it Black - The Rolling Stones
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place - The Animals
Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire
For What Its Worth - Buffalo Springfield
Old Man - Neil Young
A Horse With No Name - America
Nights in White Sating - Moody Blues
Hotel California - The Eagles
Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
Nothing Else Matters - Lucie Silvas
Shooting Star - Bad Company
Turn The Page - Bob Seger
Copperhead Road - Steve Earl