Monday, 23 February 2009


The trip from Sanmenxia to Qingdao was forced on me by the threat of being illegally employed in China, not something many people would fancy, without having the requested employment or business visa in my possession. Endeavours of obtaining one of these items locally sprouted the scenario of doom that my Chinese adventure may come to a soon and sudden end as I was bluntly and decisively told that there was no way of acquiring the requested legal items. The organization which had linked me to the school had been promising from the very beginning on that they would take care of the visa process but their vague answers and sporadic replies by email suggested that they had as little notion about the crucial visa procedures as about the best way to grow eco-friendly strawberries on the North pole. Hence the hazy reference I eventually got to a certain ‘Miss Zhang’ did little to rouse my conviction of total incompetence of the bureaucratic mess I found myself in. Yet China keeps surprising you, and this time the surprise was as pleasant as much as the previous ones had been less favoured. The lady who was referred to as Miss Zhang called herself Linda, and besides her lovely looks she was more than competent of dealing with the visa mess. (insight that I gained later that she was working for a different organisation whose services mine had profited from temporarily shed a clarifying light on the initial paradox of skewed efficiency) Hence I took an overnight bus to Qingdao (big struggle, too long a story for now) and was well received by Linda the next morning. I utilised the Sunday to visit the city and on Monday I was led by Linda to various bureaucratic strongholds which were surprisingly easily dealt with and thus in no-time a valid 6-month F visa showed proudly on my passport.

The city of Qingdao is famous for its German heritage and, interrelated to the German occupation, for its tasty beer. The old town displays a variety of architecture and churches which would lure one into the feeling of finding himself in a cozy German provincial town, though a look at the skyscrapers which line the coast underlines the very fact that Qingdao is a well established Chinese city. Strolling around Qingdao made my first weekend trip, and plans are to continue the sequence in five days by visiting nearby Luoyang. Soon more on that!

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