What had happened?
Well he was going to be deported from China if they couldn’t renew his Visa on time. He went through all stages in a single moment: stress, anger, fear, sadness and acceptance. My friend would have to go to Hangzhou to save his behind from being deported.
Nothing funny in all of this, but worrisome if he couldn’t get his Visa extension during those days. It was a Thursday and he only had until Sunday, when his adventure or Odyssey from hell began.
A teary eyed Hector, his first name, came to me and told me he might have to go home, back to England. I told him to take it easy, he would make it! But there was nothing easy about what he would have to go through.
Via bus to Hangzhou that afternoon, he had to get his flight ready the next day, on a Friday. So while the paperwork was getting done, he waited and for those 24 hours, while he taught with his grin of patience and soulful laughter. Always expressing, “This stress will age anyone!” Feeling that at any moment his stomach would give in, this constantly caused him the ‘runs’ to the bathroom. Madness… With fear came lose of appetite.
The following day he was off to the Airport, with the potentiality of being on a plane to Hong Kong. His flight was at three, here is where things furthered and got even more complicated. Thinking that Hector needed a Visa for Hong Kong, they didn’t allow him to board.
By the time the Airline came to its senses, the airplane had already left and he was stranded. And it was only a matter of time until he was to be deported. He only had nine hours left on his Visa. Being placed on another flight that wasn’t going straight to Hong Kong, but Guangzhou, “It is okay, it is okay!” He said to himself, although the desperation was soon mounting. He would have to be outside of China by the stroke of midnight or like “Dorothy”, his carriage would turn into a ‘pumpkin’ if you have ever seen Cinderella.
The airline placed him on another flight arriving in Guangzhou. That in reality was only 90 minutes from Hong Kong by train. So he rushed from the Airport to the Train station, dealing with people that barely spoke English against his little to nothing Chinese.
Desperately he was running for his life. “Literally, I have to get out of China, before I am trapped. I was begging to be stamped-out before I got sent back home to Britain for having an expired Visa.” Fighting against time, he made it with barely three hours left on the clock. As he was certainly stamped-out of China and stamped into Hong Kong.
Well, maybe I exaggerate; however in truth, China is a place where everything is left for the last minute and then is rush, rush, with documents!
Hector got into Hong Kong that night, with barely hours left on the clock. Caught in China, he would have been arrested, sent to jail and then, deported! In those three orders.
He breathed in a sigh of relief, while checking into the Hotel. Funnily, he was able to relax, but his nightmare of stress wasn’t over. The following morning with passport in hand, while between different stories and being told between on thing and the other… He searched. Through the nearly ‘perfect’ subway-system of Hong Kong; and still, he got bloody lost!
He ran around town searching for the British embassy to clarify information and afterward to the Chinese consulate. Difficulties seem to mount, and Hector laughingly never gave-up! Or as he jokingly states, “I didn’t want to spend the night in jail or get deported, so I moved my ‘bum’ (buttocks) as quickly as possible.” He was thanking God throughout the way! And while reaching the Chinese consulate he got even more bad news that pissed him off…
Although, he would get the extension, it was only for the L-Visa. A bare 15 days to go back to China with more bad news, “Oh, by the way,” he was told by the Chinese, “you have to get your medicals done in China.” He almost collapsed!
So while in the process of fainting, he found out he would have to return to China to get his physical. Something that he was told on the Mainland [the physicals] he didn’t need. From Hong Kong he flew back into Hangzhou, for the adventurous seesaw. Run, run, run, Hector. At the latter city they began checking for everything. The procedures that almost all doctors look at… Not in China, they had a doctor for everything, as he stated, “One for the stomach, another for the lips, there was another for the eyes and even tears!” Laughing… I asked if there was one to check his bum (buttocks). He laughed even more.
When I came to see Hector again nearly two weeks later, he laughed. He was stressed and tired. And at the end of it all, there was no end. The week after next he would have to return to Hong Kong for his Z-Visa and a work permit. Papers were processed without being looked at, as my friend explained. Even stating his name in Chinese, something erroneous, Hector made his point, “The paper could have stated ‘Jonnie loves Cha Chi’! And it would have been stamped and processed.” Like Sophia Coppola once stated, “Lost in the Translation”.
In the end, he told me the news. He would be staying in China, while he will return to Hong Kong on Monday and come back with his paperwork to Hangzhou, and then to Zhuji on Tuesday. The craziness of it all is that the Chinese are confused in their procedures and laws. The biggest problem is the lack of organization and thousands of RMB in human resources wasted by stupid procedures, and furthermore, incompetence. And as he ended with laughter, he gave me this warning, “Don’t laugh, you only have an L-Visa and in six weeks it expires. So you might also be going to Hong Kong. Good luck my friend.”
It was like for a moment my head wanted to spin in terror, as I gave him this look of horror and we had landed on the opposite side of the Universe. Therefore, in six weeks I’ll let you know about my own Odyssey and trip into Hong Kong. Certainly, this may be a fact. “Oh, China…"
By Daniel Otero
Company: TEFL, Zhuji, China