It took me about seven months to organise the necessary application paperwork and another five months waiting to see if the the Chinese Government agreed to grant it, but this week I finally got my "Foreigner Permanent Resident ID Card" (aka Green Card).
It not only means that I don't have to get a new visa each year for the next decade but, more importantly, I'm not tied to any one visa-issuing educational institution. I am free to pick and choose whatever jobs I like, since my work visa is already secure. And there are much better paid jobs out there than the one I currently have, so watch this space!
One of the few disappointments of our time in the UK was getting notice of a traffic fine in the final week from when we had hired a car. I have no idea of what it's for as I thought I'd been very careful to keep below speed limits and park correctly. As yet, no paperwork has come through to our UK address, but I fear it's just a matter of time.
Then today, my Chinese driving license also got blemished. JiaJia received a parking fine yesterday dating back to June and persuaded me to take the points, as my license is (was) clean while hers is, let's say, cluttered! She also needs the car more than me. Our trip to the traffic police office today did at least provide some amusing Chinglish.
The pedestrianised area under a large flyover in central Kunming used to get taken over every evening by dozens of illegal vendors selling mobile phone covers, underwear, headphones, you name it. The local police have tried a variety of tactics to clear the area, but as soon as the cops disappear, the shops reappear. This has lead to congestion, fights and some traffic injuries (mostly electric bikes hitting passers-by). But last week I went there and the whole area has been filled with potted plants! Apparently this is the latest police brainwave; simply give the vendors nowhere to set up! And there are just a couple of policemen on duty now making sure the plants aren't nicked! I'm not sure if it's barmy or inspired, but so far it's doing the job...
We decided to take Ma-in-law to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a friend of ours highly recommended a doctor in a hospital some dictance away. Ma-in-law has had a poorly shoulder for a week which she blames on all the "baby-holding" she imagines she does (and strangely not on the dance performances she took part in last week!?). At the the hospital, we walked past the "Otorhinolaryngological Dept" in order to find the "Ache Dept" where our doctor works (I kid you not!). He examined ma-in-law and gave her an injection. Ava then mentioned the sore elbow I've had for three months now. Another examination and he diagnosed "tennis elbow", presumably from all the badminton I've been playing over the last year. Another injection for me. I assumed it would be a pain-killer or an anti-inflammatory, but it turned out to be ozone(!) and quite painful. Back home, I Googled it and found that ozone injections are a "Traditional Chinese" remedy for everything from arthritis to cancer, and not recommended by many mainstream doctors! We'll see how it goes.
On leaving the hospital we spotted a traffic policeman giving us a parking ticket despite there being no visible "No Parking" sign in sight. I asked him how we were supposed to know and he said we were two minutes late returning and there was a sign explaining it all some 500m down the road. Cheers mate!!
Last week I bought the Season 2 of "Fringe" - a sci-fi show I enjoy - but I first decided to rewatch Season 1, since I'd not seen it in over a year. However, I soon realised that the end of the first season didn't match up with the beginning of the second. It turns out that my "Complete Season 1" [see photo] only had the first 10 episodes of the 20 episode run (...still following?). DVD pirates sometimes do this in order to get their copies out on the shelves before anyone else, regardless of whether it really is a full season or not. So I went back to the shop that sold it to me, but found it's now full of empty shelves. I explained my problem, but they rather nervously explained that they "don't sell pirate DVDs". Another DVD shop up the road was also bare. It seems there have been a series of police raids recently, stripping shops of their illegal DVDs. All except one. The DVD shop next to the police station seems to have escaped totally unscathed. Their shelves are full to overflowing with pirate DVDs. I'll leave you to guess who may or may not own that shop!
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