After leaving the internet cafe I went back to the laundry room…erhmm, hotel that is, and called Paul, our visa guy. He answered right away and agreed to meet in the lobby of our hotel at 3:30; he had our passports with the new six month visa in hand!
After giving Paul a physical description of Ig and myself so he could easily spot us, I hung up and then said, “How stupid! He has our passports with our photos–he already knows what we look like!” Doh!
Paul was right on time with our goodies, and he also did me a massive favor; I’d written an entry to put in the first spot of my journal, but I needed it translated into Mandarin. I plan on showing this to the fine people we meet along the way to explain what we’re doing, to thank them, and to ask if they’ll write a small message in the book. Not only did Paul translate this for me, but he also talked to the people at the front desk to make sure I could leave a bag here at the hotel for six months. Turns out this will be no problem, thankfully.
If anyone needs help getting a visa for China, then Paul’s definitely your man! Contact me and I’ll pass his number along.
He of course thinks we’re crazy for such an undertaking…but then who doesn’t?
Thanks again for everything, Paul–you’re awesome!
In the first photo below you’ll see my old visa, now cancelled. The second photo is my new six month visa (WOOT-WOOT!!), and the third photo is the ticket to Jiayuguan, which means that starting tommorrow at 11:40am, I’ll be spending the next 36 hours on a train. Again, I say, WOOT-WOOT!!! :~p
So after all that was sorted, Ig and I got some grub. Passing up the “Chase the hangover away” soup, the “jujubee” drink and the “cock”, I ordered a bowl of spicy beef soup, and Ig ordered rice noodles with beef and vegetables.
“I think this order is very small,” our waitress said.
Ig and I looked across the table at each other, eyebrows raised, and in unison said, “Uhh…yeah.”
She shrugged it off and came back to the table with a myriad of small dishes; we were in a hot pot restaraunt, and obviously we didn’t know what the hell we were doing.
It was one of the best meals I’ve had since being here, and when I’d finished (I was still grazing long after Ig) I said, “Man, I can’t believe how full I am.”
“Well,” Ig said, “you just ate a bowl of soup the size of your head.”
Yeah, ok. True dat.
Then it was off to the supermarket to stock up on snacks for the train ride. We bought plenty of water, a box of onion crackers, some cheese (Ig stumbled across some imported cheeses the other day), some chips, a bundle of beef sticks and chicken sticks (yeah baby!), and at the last moment I snagged erhmmm, some coffee jelly. I think I might’ve eaten this in Taiwan, but I can’t be sure. At any rate, it’ll be good for shits n giggles, not to mention my caffine fix.
And then something new happened on my way here. There’s a lot of building going on in Beijing (you’d think they were taking this Olympics thing seriously, as you can’t walk a block without seeing a plethora of cranes and all sorts of patching and fixing), and the shortcut I take to the internet cafe is through a construction area that lays under two raised expressways which are not yet in use. Outside the construction guys, you hardly ever see another soul walking through there.
As you can imagine, work seems to stop as mouths fall open and eyes widen when I go strolling through. I’m sure this is because I don’t have on a hard hat, really. At any rate, nobody has ever made a peep or said anything to me. Tonight, however, I found that passing a construction site is a bit like home after someone whistled and someone yelled, “Hello!”
Hmm, I think that maybe I’m starting to blend now instead of sticking out and scaring the locals.
And then just when I’d actually convinced myself that I blended in well, I popped up to the internet cafe counter to hand over my 3 Yuan for the hour. The clerk, who’s seemingly always here, plopped a card on the counter with hand-written English on it.
“Please show your proper verification,” the card said.
“Oy, crap,” I thought. “Did I muck up the computer with that download? Am I busted for trying to break into my hotmail everyday??”
I just looked at her with wide eyes, because if she was after my passport number, I didn’t have it on me; not wanting to chance loosing it after such a long wait, I left it back at the hotel with Ig.
So I widened my eyes even more, smiled and shrugged. She called out to a couple people for help, to no avail. She took my money and sent me to “Joe shuh chee”. Don’t mind my awful spelling; that’s computer number 97 for those of you who can’t speak baby talk Mandarin. :~)
So ya’ll, the “Hurry up and wait” period is over, I hope. At least we’re headin’ West tommorrow.
I should be able to post from Jiayuguan, so I’ll do so as soon as I can. Until then, happy trails!