When a foreigner enters China, it is the law that they register at the nearest police department. If you stay in a hotel, the hotel takes care of registration, so Fabien was covered, but not I. After we re-entered China from our weekend in Hong Kong and now that we had a home, I decided that it was time we both comply with Chinese law. Spending time in jail is not how I want to experience Chinese culture. So, we returned from Hong Kong on March 16th and went to the Police Station with our passports that evening. It was apparent that no one at the Station spoke English and we were quickly told, “Tomorrow”. So we came back the next day and we were told the same thing. And again the next day. In the meantime one of Fabien’s co-workers had also registered and informed us that we need a copy of our lease and property documents from our landlord. Oy vey! Another challenging task rolled into one. Fabien decided that it was time to take care of business and he called our old friend, rotten tooth Ken. Both of them agreed that Monday morning, 9:30 a.m. we would meet at his office and all go to the station together. Wow, that was easy (so we thought). At 9:30, on the dot, we were there and Ken frustrated us some more with some irritating details of our lease that we weren’t aware of and then advised us that the landlord would, maybe, (here’s this infuriating word again) be available this afternoon. Fabien forcefully explained that he only had the morning off work to take care of this. Eventually, the landlord showed up, with the necessary documents and we were off to the Station. Once we arrived, a lady stamped our passport copies and instructed us to go to another station. Good old Chinese efficiency. So, we did. We sat down at the registration desk and were pleasantly surprised when the girl spoke English. Ah ha, this shouldn’t be too difficult. She reviewed our passports and saw that we came from Hong Kong almost a week ago.
Police Lady: You are supposed to register within 24 hours of entering the country.
Fabien: We tried. We came to this exact station and were told several times to come back tomorrow.
Polcie Lady: When did you come?
Fabien: Several times.
She then pulled, out of her desk, an sign with hours. Again, good old Chinese efficiency. Wouldn’t it be really easy to post this sign in plain view for a more specific time, other than saying “tomorrow”?
Police Lady: I am suppose to fine you.
Fabien (with attitude): How am I suppose to to know the hours? You should have that sign posted. Do you know the registration hours in France? We came here on the 16th and everyday after that.
Unamused Police Lady: Please give me 100 Yuan.
Fabien was about to start throwing daggers, so I interjected and calmly explained to her again that we came several times and were never told the hours. She did a couple things on the computer and then told us she could not complete our registration today because we did not agree to pay the fine. So Fabien threw 100 Yuan ($10) at her and she gave us the registration forms. In 30 minutes we where on our way home with our tail between our legs. A police man would deliver the stamped forms to our house within 3 days.
It appears as though our experience was just another example of the universe testing our patience. Almost all of Fabiens co-workers were late and none of them received a fine. By chance, we just got the police lady on a power trip. But now we feel like rebels, the Bonnie & Clyde of China.
When the forms did not show up after 3 days, I went back to the Station to find a man at the registration desk. He quickly printed out our registration forms, stamped them and even apologized for it taking so long.
There are a few new photos of this past weekend in the Photo Gallery. This weekend we’ll be heading out of the city (probably Guilin) and next Friday we are going to Thailand for 10 days. I’m sure after both trips we’ll have great pictures and more funny stories to tell.
Dollar DVD of the Day: Mad Men, Season 1 & 2. I have spend the last week and a half watching 24 episodes of this amazing show. It’s been a while (since Sex and the City) that I was really sad when I didn’t have new episodes to watch. If you haven’t heard, the series is about an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in the 1960’s. It’s fun to see them so ignorant on products (i.e., in the first episode they deal with the newly released report that cigarettes kill people and the positive spin they put on the report for their client, Lucky Strike). The show is filled with lots of drama, affairs, sexual harassing of office women, drinking and smoking at work, sketchy pasts and clever takes on American products. Both seasons are a big time commitment, but so worth it.