I think I have enough blog material soon to make a book about “painful paperwork stuff you have to do as a laowai in China.” The book could include some different sections, such as:
• Horrible experiences at the bank
• Heart attack potential situations at the Visa office
• Not being listened to at the police station
• Trying to get your deposit back from your landlord (hahaha, good luck with that!)
• Different fainting spots at the hospital when there to do a medical check
For me, the bank has been the worse by far. Before I went to Australia, for instance, I headed over to my bank (ICBC) to ask if I could use my Unionpay card at ATMs in Australia, as I had read that you could online.
-No! said the bank clerk.
-But.. on unionpay’s homepage it says…
-It’s impossible. Doesn’t work.
-Eh… OK. Not even at the National Australia Bank (NAB)?
-Eh… OK, well then I have to exchange some currency.
-Oh, that’s also very troublesome! You will have to stand in a long line for that. I suggest you don’t do it here….
-Right.. thanks for your help.
Guess who headed over to Perth, located a NAB ATM and withdrew money! And, in some stores (that had EFTPOS machines) I could even pay with my Unionpay card! This just proves that the people at the bank don’t even listen to your questions, they just say no so that they don’t have to deal with you anymore.
Yesterday at the police station, I had another, classic experience of “there is no standard as different rules apply to different people.” I have all my papers in order, but since I have a new passport since a week back, I needed to renew my police register form so that it had the same number as my passport.
“Fortunately” a friend of mine had done the exact same process just 2 days before, and told me that it was simple:
-You don’t need anything more than your old registration slip and your new passport!
-Really, it’s that easy?
-Yeah! Real easy!
Could something ever be easy when dealing with authorities over here? Sounded foreign to me. So, just to make sure (…) I packed my lease and brought my wallet along to station.
And, very well.
-We need a copy of this, a copy of this, and this, and this…
-But my friend only needed to show her old registration form…
-That registration form is the only thing we don’t need..
Of course I didn’t have copies of my lease and my visa page… so there I was again, running between the police station and a copy place down the road (thank GOD it was open! Last time I was in a similar situation it wasn’t and then I had to go into a real estate office and bribe the workers in order to get them to copy 5 document for me).
Anyway, once everything was in order I got the form that I needed. But man, this stuff is daunting! Especially since different rules seem to apply to different people. And it changes all the time. Ahhhrg!