Written on 6 September 2009
Well, we’re in Guangzhou, and we’ve been here for four days without internet… and being without internet makes life somewhat miserable since it means you can’t contact anyone, can’t prep for classes, can’t read your email, can’t blog, can’t pay your bills (read: tell all bill collectors to read this blog post), etc. This problem arises from an unbelievable bureaucracy that requires that I get a foreign expert certificate, campus ID, campus card (whatever that is), and a temporary residency permit. And until I get some unknown combination of these, it’s no internet and potentially some visa problems.
And in an attempt to get these items, so far I’ve had to fill out 8 forms, and provide folks with 18 passport photos, 4 visa and passport copies, 8 copies of doctors’ clearance, 4 copies of birth certificate, copy of marriage certificate, a copy of my diploma, and, unbelievably, copies of my health and life insurance policies.
(So, now I’m blogging on Microsoft Word, and posting when I get internet access.)
Other than that, we’ve done quite well. Why?
(1) We went to IKEA. We bought a ridiculous amount of stuff (our apartment had nothing but 4 beds, 1 desk, 3 chairs, 1 table, TV, fridge, washing machine and the oldest sofa on the planet), and I amazingly negotiated to have it delivered same day.
(2) I went to METRO, a large import grocery store.
(3) We’ve arranged for water delivery. (The water in China is not potable, and you need to drink, cook and brush your teeth with bottled water.)
(4) We live a long term apartment in a hotel on campus, and the restaurant in our hotel is wonderful and inexpensive. Our whole family can have awesome dim sum for breakfast for 27RMB ($4.50USD), and dinner for 100 RMB (~$17USD).
(5) We lounged at Starbucks today.
(6) The Metro in GZ may be the best in the world (certainly better than Chicago, Boston, D.C., NYC, Paris, or Barcelona.)
In all we’ve bought, 7 rugs, kids toys, toy chest, bed linens, table linens, kitchen utensils, dishware, pillows, blankets, desk, bookcase, kids table and stools, art supplies, rice cooker, toaster, air purifiers, kitchen storage, towels, tons of groceries and the list goes on and on and on.
In other news I finished reading “Environmental Regulation in China.” The book is interesting, since it not only lays out the regulatory regime in China, but also discusses how social norms (guanxi, saving face, etc.) impact environmental regulation in a highly decentralized local environment. In light of recent American legal scholarship that suggests how to change social and cultural norms about the environment, I wonder whether the same triggers for changing social norms would work in China (e.g., education, public guilt/shaming). Also, the book states, with much citation, that it’s common in China to allow companies to keep polluting so long as fines are paid on time. Economists would have a field day with this….it would seem the fees are set too low.
Prior to arriving in GZ, we had our Fulbright Orientation in Beijing. I was mostly stuck in the hotel and could have been anywhere on earth. So we were happy to arrive in GZ. The flight went smoothly, but checking in was an ordeal—(the sequence: check-in at electronic kiosk, then check in kids with person, then check baggage, then pay excess baggage charge counter, then return to get boarding passes, then take stroller for special packaging, then return with slip to get passports, then take stroller to oversize baggage). My advice: fly business class in China…then everything is taken care of!
Going to bed now…. And as my final story, on our first day in GZ, I left campus to walk to the grocery store. Only 50 yards from campus, I was stopped by the police. After a long conversation, I survived, but wish I had my actual passport with me rather than a copy and I wish I already had my temporary residence permit. I did have the following items that helped me: hotel business card (hotel automatically registers you with police as required, and my work business card which has a Chinese translation (it’s much better to be a professor than a student).
But actually things are going quite well…as long as we get internet soon. J
(We have internet now!!!!)