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Leaving China - maybe.

Popularity 7Viewed 4054 times 2015-7-20 07:30 |System category:Life| leave, China, frustration, service, bank

It seems to be harder to leave China than stay here! The last couple of days have seen my frustrations grow with each thing that needs doing before I depart. Let’s start with the banks.


Although the debit card I use in China may be used all over the world, according to the bank, there was still some unease about that being true and if I left money here in a Chinese bank then the only way I would have been able to access it would have been to return to China! So transferring the money to my Australian account was the safest. But…..not the easiest. Again, there are rules for foreigners and there are rules for locals and the rules for foreigners clearly states: Thou Shalt Pay More! I’m sure if we instigated the same rules in Australia for non- Australians our budget deficits might be somewhat lower! Oh but…..that’s discrimination, right? Right!


On the window of the bank teller’s cubicle it states in big, red lettering: Foreign Currency Banking Service. But, only if you don’t want any foreign currency, rare ones like the Euro for instance! Or Australian dollars. I saw in a picture that showed China owning about 40% of Australia so we can safely assume that the RenMinbi will soon be used in OZ rather than our dollar. Another problem solved.


To transfer funds from the bank in China to Australia meant paperwork a 4WD couldn’t climb over. Also, this bank suggested we use another bank as a middleman! Huh? Say that again? Can you imagine if you’re a Westpac customer and they suggest that you use ANZ to help do a transaction? As usual, the first words to come out of the mouth of a “Customer Service” person was: We can’t do that! I have an online account and attempts to use that resulted in more frustration until my friend rang her friend who worked at the bank and said, “No you can’t transfer funds internationally online.” OK.


In the end, and we’re talking day two now by the way, I withdrew all the cash from an ATM…correction only 20,000RMB because that’s the limit, then I had to stand in a queue for an hour to see a teller to get the remainder…..hand that money to my friend who then took the money to the Bank of China (mine was the Construction Bank, remember?) and she transferred to me in her name. Easy. (Doh!) By the way Bank of China, International Service Floor, do you have a couple of hundred Euros I can exchange RMB for? Yes, but we only have one (yes ONE) 500Euro note so you will need 3500 RMB to get it. (Insert maniacal laugh here!) Other little interesting aspects of the Bank of China, it closes for lunch. We’re not talking a 30 minute or 45 minute or even an hour break here, it’s a full 2 hours and we’ll be back at 1.30pm folks, okay? They made a big sacrifice for me though. The bank canteen closed because they were attending to my needs and so they had to go to a local restaurant for lunch.


Did I mention that I am, at the time of writing, illegally in China? My visa expired 2 days ago and two days ago we went to the Department of Foreign Affairs to renew it for just the extra 6 days I needed before my flight departed from Beijing to Poland. Because we were at the bank all damn morning it was afternoon when we arrived at the DFA. And yes, they are closed from 11.30 – 1.30 as well. I stood around there for about half an hour after which time my assistant returned to say that the officers were in a meeting and at that meeting they had decided not to process any visa applications that afternoon. Could I return the next day? (Insert another maniacal laugh!) Well, it’s not as if I could complain to anyone could I? Defeated I went back to my apartment.


So yesterday I left them my passport, dangerous to do because I need it on Monday regardless of visa stamped in there or not. The fine for being illegally in China is 500RMB a day but the thought of deportation made me feel better. You have to get your photograph taken at the DFA and they have this expensive looking camera on a stand. My shirt was white so they threw a tatty old black jacket at me because the camera didn’t take a clear enough photo if you had a white shirt on. As I walked out of the photo area I looked at the line of people waiting for their visa snapshot, counted a dozen white shirts and blouses, and thought: I wonder what immigration officers think when they see hundreds of people coming and going into their country all wearing the same black jacket? Bloody suspicious don’t you think? Ten minutes later I was sitting in front of another officer’s computer and on which they take another photograph of you sitting there. The camera? It was a $10 cam! No jacket required! (Insert squeal of delight here!)


Adding to the day yesterday, I needed a new battery for my laptop and went to Xinbaida and Bainaohui, electronic places that sell everything. I handed the battery to the guy behind the counter, trying to make myself understood and he was yabbering away in Chinese, he didn’t understand me and I certainly didn’t understand him, much to the delight of the other customers and salespeople there and which I duly ignored. He tries to read the wording on the back of the battery which is from an Australian laptop and hence written in English and which, of course, he will never be able to read so why is he trying? The guy wanders off but comes back quickly to say: No they don’t have one. China copies everything! Are you trying to tell me that they don’t have a battery with the same connection points? They even sell the same make of laptops! But alas! No! (Insert tears of frustration and a big sigh!) 4 days to go!


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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