Steve's China Blog

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trip to Dalian and stuff

A few weeks ago I finally got around to going to Dalian to close my Bank of China accounts there. I figured I would wait until the beer festival was going on, so I could go to that also. There was a problem in that some web sites were saying that the beer festival was running from 17 July to 28 July, and others that said it was running from 26 July to 6 August. Eventually I discovered that the real date was from 17 July to 28 July, and since I had to work during the weekend of 26 July I decided to go the weekend of 19 July.

I flew up to Dalian on a Thursday night, and worked from the hotel on Friday. Late on Friday afternoon I went to the main branch of Bank of China and closed my accounts. That was the easiest time I ever had doing something at Bank of China. It was a rainy day in Dalian, so not many people were in the bank and I got everything done pretty quickly. Of course, since it was rainy it was hard to find a taxi back to the hotel, so I just walked back.

View from my hotel room of Labor Park

On Saturday I met up with my friend Arjan and his wife, my friend Sean and his wife, another friend named Jaap and his girlfriend, and a friend of mine named Vicky. The plan was to meet in front of a big karaoke place by the entrance to Xinghai Square where the beer festival was being held. When we got there we discovered that beer festival had been canceled for Saturday night. We were told is was closed because the olympic torch was in Dalian, but no one could explain why that would close down the beer festival for one night (especially on their busiest night). Maybe they parked to torch in Xinghai Square. I don't know.

Anyways, we ended up going to some other places and had some beers and pizzas. It was a lot of fun, but later in the evening I wasn't feeling all that great. Turns out I had caught a cold while walking back from the bank on Friday. On Sunday afternoon I went to the airport and caught my flight back to ChengDu. The flight was suppose to have a short stopover in Jinan and then we would be landing in ChengDu at about 7:50pm. At about 7:30, when we were getting ready to land, they announced that we were not landing in ChengDu but landing in Xi'an instead due to bad weather in ChengDu.

We landed in Xi'an and then spent the next two to three hours sitting in the plane on the runway. After that they decided to unload us from the plane and take us to the airport. We sat in the airport for another two hours, and then they decided to load us back onto the plane. About half way through loading everyone onto the little trams to take us out to the airplane they decided to not load us onto the airplane and we waited in the airport for another 30 minutes. My cold was really starting to kick in now. Eventually we were loaded back into the airplane and sat there for another two to three hours.

Most people slept through the flight back to ChengDu, but my ears were popping and because of my cold they would not un-pop so I ended up staying awake the whole flight back. Damn, that hurt. Luckily I was able to find a taxi at the airport and got home at around 4:00am. Going to work the next day was a lot of fun with only a few hours of sleep, a bad cold, and my ears stopped up. A week later and I've caught up on my sleep, my cold is almost gone, and my ears are ok now.

Just saw this article about something similar to our problems with the flight...

Stranded air passengers 'clash with police in China' on Breitbart. We didn't have any fights though, but it was the same airline.

Besides all of that, I've had a lot of other things going on... I went out one night with about 30 co-workers for karaoke. I didn't sing of course because my singing is terrible. No, really.... it's bad. Let's see... what else? Some friends took me out for hotpot for my birthday... that was nice! They even got me a cake and tried to sing Happy Birthday for me.

Here's the latest on my visa.... Usually I apply to have my visa renewed a month before it expires, but now I have been told I have to wait until a week before it expires. This is not a good sign, and I will have no idea if my new visa will be accepted or rejected until about the time it expires... end of August.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A tidbit

I haven't posted much in awhile. Been very busy, did some traveling, and recovering from a cold. I will post about all that later, but for now I'll just link an interesting article about China for you all...

A Long Wait at the Gate to Greatness from the Washington Post

China, the drumbeat goes, is poised to become the 800-pound gorilla of the international system, ready to dominate the 21st century the way the United States dominated the 20th.

Except that it's not.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Coming soon

Guess what I have heard that will be opening soon in ChengDu!

Now I have another reason to make sure my visa gets renewed. Mmmm.... wings. :)