1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Discussion in 'Travel' started by gungchang, 1 Apr 2015.

  1. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2014
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    359
    I am curious about the problem you had. What exactly did you need to get done? So far I have not had any paperwork difficulties, and I am very glad of that.

    It is 0 degrees Celsius right now where I live, and that is not bad at all, at least to me. My wife does not mind it either. But I had to pay extra for heating in my apartment (about $320 for the winter)--I turned on the space heaters because of my wife. I think that many Chinese people do not keep their homes very warm at all. It seems to be normal to wear a coat in the house.

    So it looks like there are four of us from this website who are in China now. Myself, Portnoy58, and InternationalTeacher are basically in the same part of China--in or relatively near Shanghai. For me it is a 4.5 hour trip by bus and train. And you are way up north--what a change from Thailand that must be.

    I want to come up north sometime. I want to see Yanji. It is very close to the border of North Korea. Yanji looks like a very attractive and interesting city. A lot of Korean people there, and so they have to have Korean food. I am fascinated by this place and I hope to go up there this summer! (The interesting thing about Yanji is that it is about 40% people from North Korea, it is prosperous, and, amazingly, the air is clean. A Chinese city with clean air--that is a first for me.) The natural beauty of that area is amazing to behold.

    This part of China is really interesting for people like me who enjoy military history. The Japanese rampage through this part of China is an amazing story. Also, it is a little-known fact that the US stationed troops in and around Vladivostok at the end of World War I. They came from the Philippines. What a monkey show that must have been.

    "The American Expeditionary Force Siberia (AEF Siberia) was a United States Army force that was involved in the Russian Civil War in Vladivostok, Russian Empire, during the end of World War I after the October Revolution, from 1918 to 1920. As a result of this expedition, which failed but became known to the Bolsheviks, early relations between the United States and the Soviet Union would be low.

    The experience in Siberia for the soldiers was miserable. Problems with fuel, ammunition, supplies and food were widespread. Horses accustomed to temperate climates were unable to function in sub-zero Russia. Water-cooled machine guns froze and became useless. (Why am I not surprised?)

    The last American soldiers left Siberia on April 1, 1920. During their 19 months in Siberia, 189 soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force Siberia died from all causes. As a comparison, the smaller American North Russia Expeditionary Force experienced 235 deaths from all causes during their 9 months of fighting near Arkhangelsk."

    rail-network-map-jilin.jpg
     
    Last edited: 21 Jan 2017
  2. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,630
    Likes Received:
    675
    Glad I didn't say hello to the man I thought was you on Thursday. Saw him sitting in Pizza Company on my way to Sizzler. That would have been embarrassing
     
  3. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    The neighbors at the condo called a cab and threw money at me to make sure I had a mix of Thai currency to pay the driver. The nephew and his wife were willing to travel with me to Swampy. It was touching. That, or they were really eager to get rid of me.

    In spite of myself, I found my way home. I had never seen Swampy so crowded. Security took forever and passport control was overflowing. By the time I got through, it was already final call for my flight and I limped as fast as I could with my bad knee and extra carry-on and duty-free rum. I did not stop to fill my water bottle. I was parched.

    I spent the night at Kunming. Fortunately, everything was fairly close together and my only wait was for immigration. There was something about my passport that confused the agent, but I got stamped in.

    Another long overflowing check-in and assembly line security. The duty free was now in the carry-on and that had been checked in. I had a lighter load for a walk of almost a klik to the the gate. I had never seen an airport so crowded. At the T-junction between terminals, it was a sea of humanity. For 100 yuan an electric cart would drive you, if you could flag it down.

    My wife was happy to see me. I was happy to be back. It was surreal to think about where I'd been and what I'd been doing less than 24 hours prior.

    Some consider my life to be a failure. I rather enjoy saying things like "I'm in Bangkok but I fly back to China tomorrow" and, like Norm Peterson, everybody knew my name. And then there's my wife, and the students, and, and.

    In Korea, my wife had an F-1 visa. This required a translation of our marriage certificate in English or Korean and blessed by the Thai Foreign Ministry before the Korean Embassy could add their blessings.

    We used that document to get my wife her S-1 visa for China.

    Fast forward 15 months. Chinese immigration notices that we're still using a document prepared for Korea when we apply for new residence permits. They request something prepared for China with blessings from the Chinese government. This resulted in travel to Bangkok in the two weeks prior to Chinese New Year.

    The Thai MFA will only accept documents in English or Thai. They refer Chinese documents to the Chinese Embassy. The Chinese Visa Service Center, which does "legalization" as well as visas, refuses anything not carrying a seal and stamps from the Thai MFA. It's a Catch-22 for a Chinese translation.

    Bottom line: I have an unauthenticated Chinese translation and an authenticated English translation.

    Which Pizza Company? It might have been me. I was at Union Mall on Friday and at Central Lad Prao on Wednesday or Thursday.
     
    DavidUSA likes this.
  4. bahn_farang

    bahn_farang Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Feb 2011
    Messages:
    5,630
    Likes Received:
    675
    Bugger it must have been you. It was Thursday at Ladprao. That's twice we should have met!!!!!! Good luck with the journey.
     
  5. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    Today we made one last trip: to immigration.

    Our elusive immigration officer was there. I had feared that he'd be long gone for the new year holiday.

    The shiny new sticker was accepted. The crisis of the month is over.
     
    Internationalteacher likes this.
  6. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    I just came across this. One year and three months later, I was reminded of the ticking bomb I'd forgotten about.

    I wasn't home free after all.

    Mailing my wife in a box was not an option.
     
  7. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    Daze in the life:

    My wife has been skimming household money and suggested we visit the Great Wall.

    (The Great Wall still refers to China. I'm curious to see what happens on the Rio Grande.)

    I got a good deal on air tickets from Beijing to Baotou, about $32/220 yuan each. We need to pay for the taxi from Erliban Airport and the train to Capital.

    The idea was to take a train there. But, I left off the leading zero when I called their number and was unable to get help from an online outfit that sells train tickets. Big mistake. The train station had only "standing" and only on one train. We returned those tickets once it sank in that we wouldn't do well on such a trip.

    We could have saved some money on the train ticket, even after service charges, compared to flying, but we're flying both ways now. The inbound flight is just over double the price of the return ticket. The shuttle from Nanyuan is free, though.

    We're going to spend a lot of time in airports, again, as usual, but som tam head (my wife) will finally take her facebook pictures at the Great Wall.

    The second casualty, after not taking a train, is that we won't stay at a courtyard hotel. I want something easy for the tour guide to find for our pickup.

    The third casualty is the Tianjin Eye. I think we might have time for it after Beijing tour, and I think I know where to catch the train to Tianjin, but finding the eye will be a first for me. I don't know if I want to do this with a clock ticking.

    Some of you have been? How far is the eye from the train station?
     
    Last edited: 13 Feb 2017
  8. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2014
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    359
    That gave me an idea: take my better half to see the Great Wall so she can take pictures of herself and show her jealous friends. It's a fantastic idea and bound to please--squeals of laughter and cat-like purring.

    I have no been to Tianjin yet, but I have been to the Great Wall. One section of the Great Wall is not far from Beijing. I just hopped in a taxi and was there in about 40 minutes, maybe a little less. It was definitely worth the effort.
     
  9. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    I'm withdrawing this request for info for now.

    40 minutes-ish for each train trip, and for time in the air on the eye, and there's two hours. Add waiting for the eye and for the trains and getting from South station to Dongzhimen station and we could easily miss our airport train. It's hard to overstate how screwed we would be if that happened.

    It seems there are at least three places to stay with the same name as where we booked and finding it on a map was a challenge. Having done so, I'm breathing a little easier now.

    My wife has been trying on clothes for hours anticipating her photo shoot. What will she realize that she's done wrong? Her shoes? Her ring? Her scarf? You'd think she's leaving tonight. (In fact, we'll be at the airport 24 hours from now.)

    I hope there's still snow on the wall. She'll be quite disappointed if there isn't. I can just see myself trying to photoshop it in.

    I still reflect on how different life has been from what it would have been had I been sensible and remained in Bangkok.
     
  10. Internationalteacher

    Internationalteacher AKA phuketbound

    Joined:
    28 Dec 2010
    Messages:
    835
    Likes Received:
    267
    Ten minute taxi ride approximately. Taxis are really cheap, but make sure they put their meter on. They are infamous from the railway station for ripping you off at times. Check Tianjin eye on your translator to show the taxi driver. Have fun!

    Oh, okay..guess you aren't doing that now? Well for future reference.
     
    Last edited: 13 Feb 2017
  11. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    Yes, and I appreciate the intel.

    Taxis everywhere are known for ripping off visitors. That's one advantage to taking bus.

    The latest misadventure is now 12 hours away.
     
  12. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    Baotou Airport is small. Crowds are not a problem.
    BAV.jpg
    This was supposed to be a milk run. I thought I was prepared.
    This was our target.
    Leo.jpg
    Our plane was late, of course. We got lucky and found the correct airport bus and it was running.

    It was very alarming to reach our drop point late at night, very cold and very dark and the area appeared a little desolate. We saw something that appeared to be a subway station. It was, and it was one away from where I thought we wanted to be. But, the subway had stopped running. The good news is that whereas I thought the hostel was past the next station, it was before it. We were going to walk from the subway as planned, just from a different station.

    Crossing a street was not easy. The pedestrian underpasses, and their nocturnal homeless residents, left us short and we spent several minutes finding gaps in the barriers.

    Confirming with subway employees and passers by that we were moving in the correct direction, I called the hostel and read out what I saw. Nothing. Finally i saw a bus stop and gave them the name. Three people appeared like banshees and brought us in.

    Our reservation did not exist. I had the printouts to show that they had existed. I think that when I phoned to tell them that we would check in late that they thought I was canceling.

    We got a room the size of a closet with a shared bath and no heat. It was adequate, though.

    Next morning, the tour guide didn't know where we were. He suggested a tea house.
    Laoshe.jpg
    We found it and they found us.

    The first stage of our first foray outside of the security of our campus, the airports, and our immediate neighborhood was over.

    We got a lot of exercise. We walked a long way to the Forbidden City and through it.
    walk.jpg
    I hurt my knee a few months ago and it appears that it's going be a life long limp. I always lagged the group.

    We had a nice view of Beijing pollution on the way to Mutianyu.
    pollution.jpg
    My wife had her first ride in a cable car.

    first time cable car.jpg

    She walked the wall and we had another view of Beijing air.
    wall.jpg
    We arrived at Capital earlier than planned after a subway transfer to the Airport train.
    We killed time at Pizza Hut. I had potato salad for the first time in a long time.
    Then, my wife noticed that we were next to a Thai restaurant and she hadn't noticed!
    PH.jpg

    Our plane left on time. I inadvertently agreed to a fixed price (almost double the anticipated fare) for the ride home from the airport. I slept as soundly as I had in decades. I doubt I got much REM sleep at Capital.
     
    Last edited: 16 Feb 2017
  13. gungchang

    gungchang Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Oct 2011
    Messages:
    2,891
    Likes Received:
    500
    I have Vypr and Hotspot on both my computers and both our phones.
    I also use Droid on my phone sometimes.
    They all have their virtues and shortcomings.
    I don't have a lifetime subscription to a VPN. Naked News, yes, but Hotspot and Vypr are for one year. Droid is monthly only. I get it when the net is crap and neither Hotspot or Vypr can connect on my phone.
     
  14. DavidUSA

    DavidUSA Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2014
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    359
    I wonder: how hard it is to set up your own VPN? Let's say you have a place in Thailand, but you live in China. It seems that you should be able to control the encryption (one advantage), control the logging (another advantage--no logging), control the tunneling protocol, and control how servers are contacted (DNS, NAT). Sounds sexy to me. Using the console in a Linux-based OS should make it easy.

    You just have to worry about lightning strikes and power outages. Teach a nephew how to turn it on.

    Maybe it is possible.
     
  15. archlord

    archlord Member

    Joined:
    19 Jan 2014
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    12
    Possible, but you're better off hosting it on a VPS like Digital Ocean.

    Making your own Shadowsocks proxy is another good way to jump the wall.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     

Share This Page