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Pride comes before a fall

September 1, 2011

And so, after a wait so long I was beginning to doubt it was actually happening and the last six months of planning had in fact been one of those ultra-realistic dreams you have just before you wake up (you know, the one where it takes a good few minutes in the morning to figure out you haven’t, in fact, won the lottery quit your job and moved to an island in the Bahamas after all) our work permits have finally arrived. The process, for those of you who are interested, seems to be:

  1. Twelve weeks ago: accept offer of job, send off signed contracts expecting to receive them countersigned in a day or so.  Weeks later, chase China for countersigned contracts which have failed to appear.  Chase again.  Contracts arrive a day or so later with a nonchalant request to complete a medical test before work permits are applied for.
  2. Ten weeks ago: spend a fortnight manically trying to get chest X-rays, blood tests, doctor check-ups and ECG scans arranged around a full-time job when your local GP refuses to see you as a private patient, the office manager having seemed to take a particular dislike for me and my trip to China.
  3. Eight weeks ago: email medical documents to China reminding them that if left much later, work permits will not arrive in time for our contracted start dates.  Receive an email from China effectively saying “relax, it is fine”.   Fail to relax.
  4. Two weeks ago: email China asking if work permits have been posted to us yet, as we are supposed fly to China in two weeks and we have yet to book a flight.
    Receive this email from China: “Please relax, it is fine you will get them soon, and be able to start teaching maybe a day after you arrive next week”.  Given that even if the visas arrived that very day the absolute earliest we could get to China would be another 7-10 days, we again fail to relax.
  5. Two days ago: work permits arrive.
  6. Yesterday, 4am: wake up, bleary eyed, for an early drive to the Chinese Embassy in London to submit work permits at 9.30am, to obtain our Z-Visas, to buy flights, to enter the country.  Reluctantly climb in to my girlfriend Jessica’s tiny, reedy Peugeot 206 since the day before I waved an emotional goodbye to my BMW at a local dealership – Jess gently teasing the keys out of my tightly gripped, tear-soaked fingers as I finally accepted I couldn’t bring it to China with me.
  7. Yesterday, 8:50am: despite my knees brushing against my ears every time I changed gear (the 206 is not designed, I fear, for my 6’2” frame) my perfect directions and effortless navigation bring us to the Chinese Embassy with time to spare.  Smug and gloating, I draw this fact to Jess’s attention, as the day before she spent most of the evening asking if I was sure I knew where I was going, and telling me to double check my directions – advice which I casually waved away.
  8. Yesterday, 09:05am: discover that we are at the wrong embassy.
  9. Yesterday, 09:06am: sprint to the nearest tube station, West three stops on the central line, sprint to the Bakerloo line, North two stops, sprint down the road, run blindly past the building we need to be at, gradually realise we are lost.
  10. Yesterday, 09:23am: I look around aimlessly and try to use my innate male Jedi skills to ‘sense’ the location of the office, pretending I understand our location in relation to the landmarks and muttering “it should be here” to myself.  Jess goes
    in to a nearby shop, asks, and comes out with directions.
  11. Yesterday, 09:28am: ready for our appointment at
    09:30am hot, sweaty and very definitely in the doghouse.
  12. Yesterday, 10:15am work permits submitted.  Visas ready in three days.  Flights booked.  We are moving to China.  Next Tuesday.  Gulp.

From → China, Personal, Travel

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