The bizarre Hua Qiang Bei electronic market

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Hua Qiang Bei is arguably the largest market for electronics in the world, and definitely one of the more fantastic and bizarre places I’ve ever been.

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Deep in the very heart of Shenzhen city, China, there is a street called Hua Qiang Bei, lending its name to the surrounding area: a district of about one square km surface, packed with large, neglected buildings several storeys tall, each of them packed with literally thousands of tiny little shops, more like market stalls, which in turn are filled to the brim with tens of thousands of electronic components and parts, piled up on the shelves or stuffed in bags crammed full under the glass desks; all of it easily amounting to billions of units. And the whole of it compounds a sort of disheveled futuristic world, something between Tron and Blade Runner: a true and unkempt jungle of silicon and germanium, close to indescribable in appearance and atmosphere.

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Once you get to Hua Qiang Bei, probably after riding the metro along several leagues of tunnels, you inmediately get the feeling that this is a very special site; and, if after dusk, you certainly might think yourself a 2014 Deckard hunting Zhora out of synthetic snake scales, or rather a Roy collecting information from some Chinese eye-designer: you’ll walk among endless stands with neon signs and all kinds of food, the mixed smells of which blend with the smoke of the cars’ engines and constructions’ huge caterpillars; dozens of shops lined up along the blocks, crowded with PNP semiconductors; a throng getting in and out –like ants to an anthill– each of the larger buildings that host the core of Hua Qiang Bei: Segbuy, the electronics giant.

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And if you become ant and get inside, you’ll lose all notion of time, orientation, and even reality. Like if they were underground, lacking any opening for letting the daylight in, every building is a poorly lit labyrinth of stalls, narrowly set, where it is theoretically possible –if you manage to head to the right seller– to find up to the last piece of hardware you might need; though much more likely you’ll get lost in this apparently chaotic intra-world, among humanoids who are maybe fixing some board with an electric welder, or sorting multicoloured wires or LEDs arrays, or checking a PCB with a tester; all of them terribly busy when they’re not eating noodles or soba in a corner, smoking (forbidden) a cigarette on a  stool or taking a nap on the desk, apparently indifferent to any potential customer and utterly ignorant of whatever may be going on around them.

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This, reader, is the electronic market of Hua Qiang Bei, somewhere between a scrapyard and a factory, a place that can at times excel the most fantastic imagination of a science fiction screenwriter. Pity that my unskilled pictures can’t convey an idea of how strange this place can look. I hope that my words have described it better.

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Tastes of Japan

(Click on any photo for a full size.)

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It was a serendipity that I found this Japanese restaurant in Shekou district, Shenzhen (China); and what a discovery it was! It suited all my tastes: a free buffet of Japanese food, excellent quality, expert cuisine, everything cooked right in front of the customer, maximum cleanliness, great variety, fresh fruit juices and milkshakes, desserts and whatnot; all you can eat or drink during two hours, for as little as 20 €. My God!

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So, along with a dozen other customers, you sit at a large table with two big griddle pans, each mastered by a cook. You grab the menu and start ordering whatever you want to a tender, who passes your order to the kitchen, where, in turn, prepare the raw ingredients for the cooks. Once they get the platters, they grill, boil, fry or whatever needs to be done, just with the help of two spatulas. Everything is cooked onto the pans; even boiling the eggs, which they achieve by pouring water onto the hot plate around the eggs and placing a half-sphere shaped lid over them. Amazing!

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Very seldom in my life I’ve feasted like that: sushi, sashimi, tenpura, carpaccio, fresh grilled fish, the best beef with onions, banana and mango milkshakes, watermelon juice, fruit salad, mango salad, dragon fruit juice, foie-gras salad, oysters, scallops, king prawns, beer… you name it! Even Haagen-Dazs icecream for dessert. In places and moments like this, you’ve got to forget about any diet plans.
But the best of all is to watch those guys, the cooks, doing everything with just the spatulas, which they handle at the speed of light: from chopping the meat to oiling the food, from mixing the ingredients to serving the plates, from cutting the butter to polishing the griddle pan, all with the utmost expertise. Quite a show! Only to watch them is well worth the price of the buffet, so you can actually consider yourself treated to the food. Chapeau!
I ony wonder, how on earth does that restaurant make any profit?

Macao: the last European colony in Asia

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Ruins of San Pablo

A tax heaven and a free port, Macao isn’t just casinos, gold and Bruce Lee movies, but an interesting long history.

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Military Club, in a colonial style building.

Up to right yesterday -so to say- this city was under Portuguese administration. Actually, it was never a proper colony, but for five centuries the Portuguese paid an annual rent to China for establishing a settlement in Macau. However, its autonomy degree varied along the years: at the beginning, traders from Portugal just obtained the right to anchor ships in Macau’s harbours and to carry out trading activities, but around mid XIXth century, as more Portuguese had settled there, an agreement was reached with the Chinese authorities for perpetual occupation and government of Macau by Portugal, well understood that China didn’t resign its sovereignity over the city (which it owned since two thousand years before). And, in this way, Macau has remained under Portuguese administration until december 1999, when China (presumedly) regained its sovereignity, thus being Macau the last European “colony” in Asia.

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Cannon between battlements of the fortress. In the background the hotel Grand Lisboa, towering the city.

By the way, the Portuguese (or, rather, their negro slaves) defended Macau from the several attacks by the jolly Dutch, who wanted to turn the port, by force, into their posession; but they were always defeated. Of this time a fortress remains, with a battery of cannons in perfect shape.
Nowadays, besides a rich and prosperous city, Macao is a curious mixture of cultures and trades; for instance, Chinese and Portuguese are both official languages, everything being written in both (though I haven’t heard anyone speaking the latter), whereas English turns out to be also a de facto official, because of tourism and the undeniable British influence: alike Hong Kong, traffic rides on the left and electric standards are the same as in the UK; while, despite the official currency being the “pataca”, this is pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at a rate of one to one, and the HKD becomes prevalent in commerce. As to gastronomy, it’s also divided between East and West, this mixture being more evident than in Hong Kong, where the cuisine is mostly Asian.

Todos los rótulos están en portugués y en chino.
All the signs in Chinese and Portuguese.

For the rest, despite the Chinese populist -and empty- slogan “one country, two systems”, Macao turns out to be as much of China as Hong Kong is: i.e., very little to nought. Much more accurate would be to say “an army, two countries”, because the only thing in common between China and Macao (or Hong Kong) is the army and, presumedly, the diplomatic relations with others; but the fact that there is a border between both countries, plus no free circulation of people nor goods, gives us an idea of the de facto, actual independence of Macao (or Hong Kong) from China.

Aparatoso y afectado, el Grand Lisboa resulta casi hortera.
Showy and flamboyant, the exaggerated hotel Grand Lisboa appears even tacky.

To sum up: even if only for photographying the ostentatious and kitsch hotel Grand Lisboa; for beholding the fine ruins of San Pablo on the slope of a hill overlooking the city, in whose summit was erected the defensive fortress; for strolling along its narrow streets with names both in Portuguese and Chinese, or for experiencing the contrast between such two different cultures, Macau is well worth a visit for the traveler who happens to be in this part of Asia.

El barroco y ostentoso vestíbulo del hotel Lisboa no se queda atrás.
Hotel Lisboa’s baroc and ostentatious hall (not to be mistaken with Grand Lisboa).

How I managed to cross to China

This is a story with a happy ending, reader. Or, well, sort of. Happy if we don’t consider the irreversible emotional damage caused by the loss of the first visa, the failure to get a second one, and the vanishing of Willow into the blue.
After the unsuccessful visit to the Consulate office for getting an express visa (that’s in chapter III), I realized that, much to my regret, I was doomed to apply for the 5-days valid Shenzhen visa at the border. But I didn’t have the spirits to try that same day, most of all because Willow told me that the border used to get extremely crowded, queues being sometimes longer than four hours. Besides, there were many questions to ask yet, many sides of the enterprise to consider and to be anticipated. Lastly, I had already booked a bed in a hostel for that night; a different hostel, with my own private bee-cell and a working internet connection. I would give Friday to chilling out and planning the Chinese invasion.
Though the information I’d found on the internet for normal Chinese visas in Hong Kong was more or less clear and consistent, this was not the case for Shenzhen visas. Not many westerners seem to have traveled that way and written about it in their blogs; therefore, I had to do a thorough research and, picking some hints from here and there, try to get a global picture of how it worked.
Apparently there are only three border crossings where you can get a Shenzhen visa; and, despite being very far from Willow’s appartment, the easiest one for a traveler like me, ignorant of Chinese, was Lo Wu, where subways of both countries (oops!, sorry) connect; and for a foreigner it’s usually easier to get through by metro than taking buses. So, I had to travel to Lo Wu, the last stop in one of Hong Kong metro lines, from where I should first exit Hong Kong, then apply for the Shenzhen visa in a hidden corner of the No man’s land, then cross the Chinese border and take the subway to Sea World, my destination stop.
I spent most of that Friday trying to gather any piece of information, in order to not leave anything to improvisation. Let me get you acquainted, reader, with a particular about getting around in China that you normally don’t think of until you’re there: not just in China, but in any of those Asian countries, even the most basic step is not as straightforward as it seems; for instance, the simple instruction “take metro until Shekou station” involves several problems: how do you get a ticket in metro?; ticket vending machines are in Chinese only, and you don’t know how ticket prices work; and you definitely don’t have a clue about how “Shekou” reads in Chinese. Or, when taking a given line or making a transfer, you don’t know which direction to take, and the fact that most metro stations seem to be called Something-Wan doesn’t help, as you can’t tell one Wan from another Wan, pun intended…
So, several times that day I emailed Willow asking for details about how to get the visa, how to get to her workplace from the border or how to contact her once I arrived, but all I got were hints like: here I send you the phone number of visa office (as if they spoke any English); metro from your hostel to the border takes 37 minutes, ask for a Hong Kong metro map in any station, you can use your mobile’s GPS; find free wi-fi in any Starbucks; buy a SIM card upon arrival, etc. And my favorite one was this: Darling, I’ll go to the metro station and tell the stuff you’re arriving. Poor Willow; she’s infinitely naïve!
Seeing that not much help would come that way, I tried to sort out everything on my own. First I went to an Indian’s for exchanging a few HKD into Yuan. Then I went to a Seven Eleven for buying a prepaid SIM card, but this I didn’t fulfill, because the tender didn’t speak any English (who said that everyone in Hong Kong can speak English? Was it me? Then I hereby rectify and apostatize) and couldn’t tell me if those cards would work in China, nor how to enable roaming. Anyhow, as Willow told me that there was a Starbucks right at the exit from metro, with open wi-fi, I thought that would do for a Viber or Skype call. For the rest, I tried to get a bit acquainted with Shenzhen’s metro map and stations, to memorize the directions I found in a website, and I finally prayed a couple of prayers I remembered from the my childhood, when I didn’t know I was not a believer.
All these arrangements took me so long that it was well past midnight when I went to bed, and therefore I didn’t wake up very early on Friday morning. My main concern was the crowd: as it was a holiday in Hong Kong, maybe twice as much people would be crossing the border that day. But then again, I didn’t solve anything by worrying, so I just got mentally prepared for it.
It was about 9 a.m. when I set off. At the beginning there were not so many people in the metro, but the closer I was to Lo Wu, the busier the train got, until it was literally packed with passengers and their suitcases. Once we arrived to the terminus station, people hurried towards the exit, and soon the flow stalled. Several lanes were signaled in Chinese and English: “Nationals”, “Mainland visitors”, “Visitors other than mainland”. I wondered, what the hell was I? A mainland visitor?, or a visitor other than mainland? Did mainland visitor mean a visitor from China mainland, or someone visiting mainland China? (They call “mainland China” to what is actually just China, for nursing the popular belief that Hong Kong is China as well.) If the former, who were nationals, then? If the latter, how could someone be crossing a mainland border for visiting other than mainland?
Also, everyone I saw in a uniform, I asked: Shenzhen visa? But all of them pointed me to keep going, no lingering. Apparently it didn’t matter which lane you took. Of course it didn’t: I had forgotten that such a crowd was still trying to just get past the subway turnstiles! Once outside, there was a wide corridor with similar signs: “Handicapped and foreigners”, “Nationals”, “Diplomats”. No wonder they grouped foreigners and handicapped under the same lanes, as being a foreigner in China you really feel handicapped. In this corridor the crowd thickened and flowed extremely slowly, as if it was an only body having the consistency of a viscous liquid, a lava flow. We were literally packed like sardines in a can, moving forward an average two steps per minute. Very inadvisable for claustrophobic persons. Once you got into the flow, you were trapped, and could only follow the human river, being literally carried by it. I queue-crowded towards the Handicapped and foreigners zone; after all I’m a handicapped person: I have a medical certificate so satating. That’s why they gave me an early retirement at work.
Anyhow, as I got closer to the desks, I realized that nobody paid attention to the boards: all kinds of people were resulting into any of the check posts. I realized it couldn’t be otherwise, as once you’re part of the flow you can’t drift aside. Yet, it wasn’t that slow. One hour later I finally saw myself in the No man’s land, where I started looking intently for a hidden escalator somewhere to the left, as I’d read in one of the websites. And, indeed, there it was, though I almost miss it. I climbed up and entered a room with several windows, marked “Apply”, “Pay”, “Retrieve”. Seemed pretty clear . There was also a big notice: FEE PAYMENT ONLY ACCEPTED IN CHINESE RMB. The tariff was 168 RMB, but I had only 160, because I -too boldly- had relied on Hong Kong dollars being accepted, because, as everyone knows, Hong Kong is part of China. Fortunately there was in the room a foreigner, veteran looking, who was kind enough to give me some of his RMB in exchange for my HKD.

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Ten minutes later I had the Shenzhen visa sticker in my passport. Yes!! Hence, crossing the Chinese border was a matter of another ten minutes: the queues were much smaller, the crowd having scattered as if by magic. I was finally in Shenzhen.
Now, how to get to Willow? Fortunately the names of the metro stations were written in Christian letters as well as in Chinese characters. That was the pro. The con was, there are basically only two kinds of subway signaling: those assuming the passenger knows by heart all and every station, line and direction in the tube network, and those which don’t. Madrid is an example of the latter; Shenzhen is an example of the former; therefore, when making the only transfer I had to make, it took me quite a while to figure out which way to take. But, finally, after a more-than-one-hour ride, I exited the underground at Sea World station.
I checked to see if any of my SIM cards worked: the Polish one did, but I had run out of credit because of the previous days’ expenses. I found a McDonald’s and checked the wi-fi: it was an open one, but only for China mobile phone owners: you have to submit your Chinese number, then they send you a code by SMS and you can get online submitting this code. Otherwise, sorry, no internet. So, I moved to a Starbucks, but then again it was the same system. Quite xenophobic. What about aliens? No “free” wi-fi for us? Thanks God, one of the waitresses in Starbucks was extremely nice, and she handed me her phone for getting the code.
desdeArribaNow that I had a working internet connection, it was just a matter of calling or texting Willow, who would be impatiently and eagerly expecting my call, with all her radars on. But I was quite mistaken: her phone was offline. How welcoming! Therefore, no SMS nor call, no Whatsapp nor Viber, no Skype either. I sent her a brief email with an ultimatum, then bought a tea (for the price of a full meal, greedy Starfucks), and started reading a book. Half an hour later, Willow’s smiling face showed up…
The rest, reader, is not interesting as a traveling story. I’m now in the 31st floor of a skyscraper, watching Shenzhen at my feet, submerged in the smoky mist. I can only stay in Shenzhen for five days, then I must leave China again… unless I convince some migration servant that I’m within the thirty days’ stay allowed by my first visa, the one I got in Spain. But that will be the matter for another adventure, if it ever happens.
If you wonder, by the way, how did Willow manage to go back to Shenzhen when she didn’t have any money on her, she told me that the Hong Kong metro staff were so nice that they let her travel further than her ticket allowed. But they also photocopied her ID and made her sign and promise that she’d go back to Hong Kong for paying the difference: 15 Yuan, (barely 20 cents) Yes, those Hong Kongers are so nice! But that’s not the funny part; the funny part is, Willow is so honest that she wants to go and pay her debt…

The 24 hours I lived dangerously

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The situation was this: by accident, Willow had stalled in one of the metro stations while I kept riding a train towards Causeway Bay. We could not communicate. We didn’t know which would be each other’s next move, but we both knew what we expected the other to do. (Just in case you don’t know, there is a whole branch of game theory, plentiful with essays and research -involving maths, statistics and psychology- for dealing with such kind of problem, called The prisoner’s dilemma. So, don’t think it was so easy to sort out.) Besides, she didn’t have any money on her, and I wasn’t altogether certain that she knew exactly our destination stop. For the moment, I had decided to keep going and wait for her at Causeway Bay.
But once I got there I had second thoughts, deeming more advisable to head directly for the hostel: she might hesitate between Causeway Bay or the previous station, but wherever she got off, she couldn’t miss the hostel. In any case, it started making me nervous why I couldn’t reach her on the phone? All subway lines in Hong Kong have good GSM signal; she had now two mobile phones on her (mine and hers), both with Chinese SIMs; I had seen her making several phonecalls that very morning; but when I tried to call her, both lines were unavailable. Why?
As I learnt later on, though, it wasn’t much of her fault: it turns out that Chinese SIM cards don’t work in Hong Kong unless roaming is previously activated; which -by the way- is pretty odd, considering that Hong Kong is part of China, and that roaming is a term involving two countries. Or is it roaming when you call from England to Scotland? Surely not.
I couldn’t help worrying, but, as everyone will tell you that worrying does not help to sort out problems, I decided to take things easy and see to them calmly. So, I arrived to the hostel and booked a bed, settled in, took a shower, brewed a tea and then got online for summoning all my resources. I tried several other ways to reach Willow: via Skype, email and Whatsapp… to no avail. It was as if she had vanished into the blue. But what on earth was she doing, anyways? Nearly two hours had elapsed; she couldn’t possibly be still waiting for me in the spot where she stalled. True: she didn’t have a dime on her, but she was inside the tube with a valid ticket to Causeway Bay. I tried to imagine, were I in her shoes, what would I do? Very likely I’d go to Causeway Bay. There weren’t many options to choose from, right?
Just in case, then, I went out and scanned around Causeway Bay’s several exits, but no sign of her. Finally I thought: Pablo, she’s not a westerner; she’s a Chinese. And in China -same as in Cuba- people are not taught to think the same way westerners do; actually, they’re not taught to think too much. Thinking of your own is not encouraged in communist educational programs. Most of all college students: those are the most severely lobotomized. Therefore, unlikely and absurd as it might seem, she’s maybe still waiting were we parted. I decided to return to that station where I had lost her, after leaving a message for her at the hostal reception.
I hadn’t stop pinging her every fifteen minutes or so for the past two hours with phonecalls, all unsuccessful, but right before I entered the subway for the second time, I finally heard the sweet ring tones on my earpiece, and inmediately afterwards she picked up the call and answered: wei? I felt very relieved, and asked her where she was. She told me, on her way back to Shenzhen; and then started complaining that she had been so many hours waiting for me inside the metro, that she asked the metro staff about me (??), but I had abandoned her and… I hung up. No mood for reproaches.
I was angry at her, though I shoudn’t have been, because as I’ve said, Chinese lines don’t work by default in Hong Kong. I tried to be reasonable. Shit happens; that’s all. Letting my mood take me over would lead nowhere. So, I started addressing the main problem: how was I to enter China and fulfill my holidays? Difficult question. Asking Willow to stay with me in Hong Kong was out of the table: those exploitive Chinese companies are merciless, and she worked at a small one ten hours a day, six days a week, no holidays, no sick leaves, no health care, no nothing. So, I had to figure out how to go to Shenzhen myself.
Yahooing around, because I don’t google, I read some traveling websites and found two possibilities, though with a bit outdated information, like two years old: the first one was to apply for another visa at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Hong Kong (which is quite weird, because you don’t have a Consulate of your own country in your own country; unless Hong Kong is not China; but don’t tell this to Chinese people), and this visa can be issued in as little as twenty four hours if you bring all the papers and pay the express service fee on top of the visa fee. The second possibility was to go to the border and apply there for a Shenzhen visa, which is a on-the-spot type you can get only in three of the several crossings between Hong Kong and China, valid only for visiting Shenzhen, with a maximum stay of five days.
As my return flight to Spain was for twenty days later, the second possibility didn’t make much sense: though Shenzhen visas are cheaper, I’d need to get in and out of China thrice, crossing the crowded border six times, which meant irreversible waste of holidays and wear of neurons. I have to confess that the idea of just bringing forward my return ticket and simply going back to Spain much earlier than planned crossed my mind a few times, but finally I ruled it out.
Thus, the decision showed as rather obvious: I’d try to get a new tourist visa the next day. There were some papers to download and print, some forms to fill, some buildings to find, some queues to wait and some money to pay; but if I managed to have everything ready early in the morning, I could get the visa twenty four hours later and be with Willow by Friday afternoon.
It was Wednesday evening, an exhausting long day, jet lag included, after a 17 hours’ trip, with almost no sleep in the Aeroflot airplane because next to my seat there were your typical group of four Russian blokes drinking beer and telling jokes all night long. So, I went to my dormitory and set to sleep quite early.
At 6 a.m. on Thursday I was up and working. The visa office opened at 9 a.m., and it turned out to be at a walking distance from the hostel; so, I had plenty of time for preparing everything. However, there were two different websites where to download the application form, and they difered in the form itself as well as in the documents to accompany. It took me a good while to tell which were the ones I needed. Once I had them in my laptop, I copied everything to a pendrive and asked the staff where could I print them. The manager told me a place nearby, an internet cafe on the 11th floor of a given building, but when I got there it turned out they didn’t open until 9:30. Dammit! Shit happens much more often than you’d expect. I went back to the hostel and, when I told the guy, he pitied me and said, ok, we’ll print it for you, just wait ten minutes for my staff to come.
The receptionist came not ten minutes, but half an hour later. It was already 8 a.m. She was much nicer and efficient than the manager, but when she clicked “print” the printer complained: NO INK. Shit! What a waste of time! She gave me the address for another internet cafe: 95-100 Lockhart Road. It looked pretty close in the map, but I was at the other end of Lockhart Road, so it took me half an hour to arrive, and then another fifteen minutes to find the building, because odd numbers were on one side and even numbers on the other side, which meant that there could not exist any 95-100 building. There was 94-100 on one side, and 93-101 on the other. I asked at a bar where a British  expat was in his third paint of lager that morning, but the bar tender had no clue about such building nor such cafe, while the Brit advised me to just drop by the National Library, only fifteen minutes drive by taxi, where I could print the documents if I showed some ID. I thanked him warmly. What a great piece of advice, dude!
By then it was already 9 a.m., the Chinese Ministry of FF.AA. office would be already opened and people lining in the queue (according to the web pages I’d read, it usually got pretty crowded). I started sweating. Asking further about the internet cafe, someone told me, yes, it was here, but it’s closed down. The place is now a brothel. Lovely. A prostitute wouldn’t do me any bad, probably. But I had to print those papers, so I went back to the other internet cafe on that 11th floor; it should be open by the time I arrived. And indeed it was; except that it wasn’t an internet cafe, but an accountant’s office. What the hell? When I was about to take the elevator for leaving the building and finding some hidden corner where to cut my veins unnoticed, I spotted a sign by the 9th floor button on the elevator’s button board: E-CAFE. Bingo! It was a neat place, with good, brand new computers, air conditioning, open 24 h (which means that two hours ago I could have finished, had I been properly directed), though no cafe was sold at all, and it was run by an extremely friendly guy who charged me black and white price for color copies. Finally a nice guy!
When I finally impersonated myself with all the papers at the visa office, which wasn’t hard to find, I saw not so many people there. No queue; just half a dozen folks waiting in chairs to be called, and another half dozen filling in forms. I felt relieved. I took an application form and went to the number expending machine, mastered by a boy who thought he was an admiral. When it was my turn, I asked him:
— Can you give me a number, please?
— Have you filled in the form? –he replied.
— No, I’ll fill it while I wait to be attended.
— No, you fill it first, then I give you the number.
Fucking idiot. I filled in the form and waited his queue again. I stretched my hand to get the number, but he asked:
— Show me your passport. –And, after inspecting it and the copy, added–: you need to photocopy your passport along with your entry to Hong Kong permit there –he pointed to a copy machine with a queue of people.
— Couldn’t you have told me that in the first place? Whatever, please give me a number.
— No, you sort out the photocopy first, then come back. –The guy was a full cretin.
In that moment, out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign on a column: Due to local holidays, this office will be closed on Friday and until Tuesday. My heart skipped a beat: today was Thursday. I asked the admiral: “by the way, if I apply today for the visa and pay the express 24 h service for tomorrow…” He didn’t let me finish: “Impossible! Nothing until Tuesday”, he said.
That was a hard blow. Bye bye Willow for now. I totally lost heart and, crestfallen, left the building with downcast eyes. I felt like sending China, Willow and my holidays to hell, along with all the diplomats and migration authorities.
Now, reader, tell me whether or not I had a good reason to consider those 24 hours like the stupidest of my life…
But never give up! If you want to know how I finally managed to enter China again, come along with me to the fourth and last chapter of this story.