Monday, February 18, 2013

Shanghai & Sh*t pt 2

hello there beautiful :-) did ya'll miss me?!
i can't even tell you the journey i have had in this land called china. whew. ok, where should i start? mmmm i think it would be best to do a countdown....perhaps it will curb my proclivity for profanity. my mother read my blog and said that i am: 
and she would be correct. because cursing helps me not to actually act on the violent rages that pulsate throughout my body as i write this story, in particularly, this post. i am smart, very outgoing and i usually don't sound like a drunk sailor unless i am pissed off. and i admit, these last few post that i have written, i have been very pissed off. so much so, i am starting to think r. kelly sponsored my trip to come here (s/o to those of you who GET that analogy) but as i said in my "about me" section, this is my truth, my blog, and my feelings. i am not sugar coating anything and asterisk aren't as sexy as the real 4 letter word that describes my day. any who i digress, i have tried to write this blog post 3 times. if this was an actual test- i would have failed like yesterday, but because it was cathartic for me to write, i pressed forward to tell you this story and i will try to do it with 5 curses or less (see mommy i CAN behave). this post is long so i hope you have time. i was gonna give ya'll the short version but i'm too much a open book for all that. plus, maybe some other poor travelling soul will see this and learn something. perhaps they can be spared the embarrassment i went through. 

1. trip to qingdao- so, i don't know if i mentioned this but my city, Rizhao, is a slow-mo cowpoke town with a population of 2 million people. their idea of a western center piece is: 4 kfc's, 1 mcdonald's and the glorious bar i went to on new years eve called hudson's. that. is. it. as of today, there are 17...well now 16 people of european, spanish, or in my case- colored, origin here in Rizhao- the rest of the population is chinese.. there are no starbucks, no 7elevens  or even a lot of stores that take Visa...because while their slogan was, "it's everywhere you want to be", it is not HERE homie. in order to keep my sanity (or what's left of it) i must go to bigger, more sleek and populated cities to decompress and eat fat shit like 2 big mac's and 3 medium sized fries and a coke while reading stuff on facebook and updating my instagram. so that is why i decided to come to qingdao for a couple of days and fly to shanghai from there. and it was a great trip. my site coordinator and i went to get manicures and set off firecrackers on the beach at night while dancing to the music in our heads. you have to love the fact it is chinese new year and we didn't have to work for the next month. yaaayyyy!
buying firecrackers and setting them off on the beach!
2. taxi ride to airport- ok, i am a NEW YORKER a die-hard, brooklyn/queens/bronx raised woman who has no problem taking public transportation. why spend 3x as much money on a cab, when you can hop your ass on the train or bus and still have money left over for fun stuff like coffee or chocolate or whatever else makes you happy? but, because i can't read chinese and taking the bus requires you to know where you are going- drat! i don't speak chinese- double drat! and i was super lazy when i woke up the morning of my flight- i took a cab to the airport. whomp. first of all, the driver was driving like he had epilepsy- dodging in and out of traffic and stopping abruptly like every 30 feet. chinese drivers are the worst drivers. they make new york city taxi cab drivers look like morgan freeman in 'driving ms. daisy' these niggas have NO concept of stopping at red lights, yielding to pedestrians, or using the brakes. i mean, i knew this from the first time i took a taxi in Rizhao and almost went to see Jesus early when my driver cut across 3 lanes of traffic going in the opposite direction because he missed an exit 0_0. anywho, i paid him 70RMB 70 freaking RMB for that death tease and went on to carry myself to Shanghai....
the view from the plane. GORGEOUS
3. arrival in shanghai and the horror that followed- after getting through security and finding my boarding gate i proceeded to look around the airport and see if i could grab something to eat. i hate eating before a big trip because i am a worrywart and my stomach starts to get jiggy with it every time i have to travel to an unknown destination. i like to wait until i'm settled before i eat. i find this little cafe by a newsstand and i look at the menu only to see that they want 58RMB for a cup of coffee..... ummm yea- i decided just to take my free snack on the airplane and wait until i got to the into the Shanghai. my flight was easy as pie and i knew then i should have gotten suspicious because everything was going according to plan. this is real life...when stuff goes according to plan you need to worry (or maybe only i need to worry) i landed in shanghai's hongqiao airport at exactly 11:14 am- 1 whole minute earlier than expected! i collected my bags and ran to the train station. i, in my infinite wisdom, decided to stay in hostels during my vacation to save money during my journey. yes, a hostel...not a hotel or a bed and breakfast but a hostel. i spent 5 days googling (is this a real word? oh well it is now) tips on how to live in a hostel and then i read every single review of my chosen places before i gave them my credit card number and hit enter. thank baby Jesus i did not pre-book all of my future destinations, just shanghai, which is the one bright spot in this dimly lit future of mine...

once i arrive, i see that from the outside/lobby area the hostel doesn't look too bad. the walls were painted a nice orange color and they had heat. heating in the south of china is very tricky because the chinese government and building owners only supply central heating to provinces above the yellow river and Shanghai is located just below that boarder. in southern china, most places install air conditioners that put out cold or hot air depending on the season but, it is very difficult to heat a large space with just an air conditioner and i hate being cold. i give my passport and booking number to the receptionist behind the counter and wait for her to give me my room number and key- but then she says to me "where is the other page?" i respond, "other page to what?" and then she dropped a bomb on me by saying, "in your passport, their is suppose to be another page to your visa, right now, your current visa was only valid for 30 days... it is very expired" i adjusted my suitcase and blinked like 100 times before saying "ok...well, what does that mean?" she takes a deep breath and looks at me like i belong in the slow class and yells, "you are in china can not stay here" what?!!! excuse me ma'am?????!
this was me :-(
the receptionist looked at me and said. "yes, it is up to the police's discretion (well she didn't really say discretion because her english was not that good so i'm ad-libbing) whether or not you can stay in the hostel. you need to go to the public service bureau and register for a new visa. and you will have to pay a fine...up to 5,000RMB" i was so surprised and in a complete state of "oh my god" that i didn't even notice that my hand had grabbed my cellphone and dialed my coordinator's phone number. the greatest challenge of this entire situation is the fact that it falls right between the biggest chinese holiday. over 200 million people are going to see their families and love ones for the new year. it has been my experience in new york, that chinese people will deliver your takeout order in the middle of hurricane katrina, irene, AND sandy. these mofos know how to hustle. they are about a dollar! your shrimp egg foo young is gonna get delivered to you come hell or high water. the chinese owned stores will be the only stores open on every american holiday BUT, during their holidays: EVERYTHING SHUTS DOWNthe police go home. the priest go home. the monks go home. the hospital staff is only on call (although i think they keep their phones off. whomp). the restaurants close down. the mail doesn't get delivered and souls don't get saved. when chinese people take a break: it. is. a. break. not one thing can or will get done until after the holiday is over. the only thing popping off is the drinking of baijiu. baijiu is what i affectionately call "the white death". it is so strong and so toxic that i can't even stand the smell. the first time i got tricked into drinking that mess, it was my second week here and i spent 3 days praying for a death that it never came- because i was too busy having the runs and vomiting. NEVER drink it. anyway, i was in a bind and there was no one really available to help me. i had the sads. 

i finally went up to my was on the 4th floor. and there was no elevator. come on...i had a carry on bag and the bag i carry Jose in but after battling the threat of being kicked out by the police, i did not feel like carrying anything up 4 flights of stairs. thankfully, there was this very nice man from argentina who carried my stuff to my floor. i put my card in the slot and went inside. i think it is fair to warn ya'll that i am frugal (read: cheap) and the cost of staying in a four person room was half the amount of staying in a single room. now, considering the fact that i may not even be able to smell the single room air long enough to enjoy it, i am super glad i chose to have a few roommates and save some money. the place was average. the room was no bigger than a standard dorm room and there were bunk beds. i had requested a lower bunk because i'm lazy and i don't wanna have to climb down a ladder to go pee, or get into my locker, or do anything for that matter. however, upon closer inspection of my bunk, i realized that someone had given me the proverbial middle finger and had taken the last bottom bunk. i would have to sleep up top. strike 2. i mumbled a string of 4 letter words and then i threw my stuff down and tried to unpack. one of my roommates was sleeping. i did not give a shit. i opened my locker and began to pack things in there like mad. huffing and puffing and calling on inner strength to make it through the rest of my day. it was 1:30 in the afternoon, only 3 hours had passed since i landed but i felt like it was midnight. once i had stored my stuff i went to go take a shower. now here is the thing- public bathrooms are usually gross. they usually have all kinds of horrors lurking around and the LAST thing i needed was to turn on the faucet and a bug or loose hair or anything come crawling out of it. i would have flipped my shit. but fate was not so cruel and i took a long hot shower. i then climbed up the ladder and fell into a deep sleep for like 3 hours. 

although it looked like i was gonna be homeless in china, the other shoe had not officially dropped. yet. i was determined to put on a good face for the remaining time i had left to salvage this day. so i did what any self respecting person would do in a new place: i found the bar. it was downstairs on the first floor of the hostel. i ordered the strongest drink i could and then grabbed Jose and surfed the internet because the WiFi in the lobby worked wonders. as i was drowning my sorrows, i heard a very distinct sounds coming from about 2 tables away... it was ENGLISH. americans?! where? i looked up and spotted a black guy and a tall white guy sitting together talking about god knows what. i HAD to talk to someone who understood me so i sat back and plotted my mode of attack, lol. i mean i couldn't just go up to them and say, "hi my name is darcy, i like long walks on the beach and i'm an illegal alien here in china" that would not go over well. i waited until the black dude went to get a drink at the bar and i ran up to the counter. i pretended to look at a menu and sighed out loud, "ummm, idk what to get" he looked over and said "where are you from?!" i said "brooklyn" he was from chicago and his name was david. soon after we started talking, the tall white guy he was with came over and we all got to know one another. the tall dude was from Venezuela (spicy) and his name is guillermo *pats self on back for spelling it correctly the first time* it was a match made in rainbow heaven. we did have an AMAZING time in Shanghai- more on that later. i want to tell you guys all about my new besties but because i respect people's privacy, i will not tell everything

while david, guillermo and i were acting a fool at the bar, i mentioned to them my situation. david had the bright idea of calling the american consulate GENIUS. why didn't i think of that?! i mean i am an american citizen. i do have an emergency. they are open because they operate on the american calendar. duh. i pick up my cell and dialed the number...after hearing the annoying automated prompts i finally got to a live human being. i told the lady i had a friend who had fallen into this dilemma and asked what could they do to help her. *cue other shoe dropping* the heffa then responded "oh, well in these situations we would just send you back" i nodded "ok, back to qingdao so I er... I mean my friend can get this straightened out?" after what seemed like an eternity she said, "no, we would send them back to the united states. we have to. if the chinese police catch you without a valid visa they could put you in jail" WHAT THE HELL??!!! see, up until that point- i did not realize the severity of the situation i was in. i'm thinking ok. a expired visa, that's a slap on the wrist. my school will pay the fine and i'll be on my way. but now, not only am i working illegally in their country...but i would GET DEPORTED if i went to the american consulate and might go to jail if the police caught me with my expired visa. i hit the floor. send me back to america?! after only 3 months?? and i'll have to show up at my house with escorts (the embassy makes sure your ass ends up at your primary place of residence) the operator then proceeded to ask me for my passport number. hell no. dial tone. 
say it again Sweet Brown!
after seeing the horror on my face my new bff's brought me another drink (love ya'll) and i called both my coordinators and began to give them hell.  i don't care about this being the only time of the year you see your great aunt Ling Ting, HELP ME! what should have happened once i arrived in china- was for me to be taken to the local police station and registered. my company was suppose to make the chinese government aware of my foreign presence. then, after passing a physical i would then be issued my permanent work visa. a visa that would be valid for 1 year. whomp. i slept horrible that night. i had visions of the police kicking open my room door, grabbing me out of bed and sending me to the airport and putting me on the first plane to america. well no, lol, i didn't have nightmares *courtesy of my boo rum* but i did not sleep well. 

the next morning i see the manager of the hostel and she comes over to talk to me. i knew i had to pull out my best actress spirit double (i channel my shero kerry washington in scandal, i love her!) and i begin to tell the manager 1. i did not have another place to stay in shanghai. 2. how all of the planes, buses and trains are booked solid for chinese new year so i can't get back to qingdao. 3. if i were to get back to qingdao, my school is closed and no one is there there to let me in my apartment building or help me. 4. i really don't have the financial means to pay for a hotel 5. getting a hotel is impossible because my visa is expired. i could see her looking at me with the pity eyes but i still didn't feel like she got what it was that i was saying, so... i began to cry. YUP. i cried like celie and nettie did in 'the color purple' when mean ass mr. tried to separate them. i let the snot and boogers run down my face and then i gave the quivering lip. i let out a pentecostal/baptist wail (that is the a cry that takes all of your lung power and it is a sure fire way for someone to know you are in trouble) for those of you who are not familiar with this you have never been in real trouble. the poor woman was speaking in chinese and then she was speaking in english. at one point i thought she was going to hold me but she settled for just patting me on my back. she told me she would see what she could do to make sure i could stay in the hostel at least until after the chinese new year... (stay tuned for Shanghai & Sh*t pt. 3) 

yup. i cried like THIS


  1. Daaang gurl, talk about a movie-like situation. This is INSANE...can't believe they let your visa expired, I know you wanted to light them up!

    Btw, I definitely feel you regarding taxi drivers. I had to call Jesus and all 12 of his disciples every time I entered a cab in Douala, smh.

  2. I like the way you write and enjoy reading your posts. Keep it up. And I can picture poor Celie and Nettie crying :(.

    Glad it worked out for you for a few days.


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