Monday, 15 September 2014

Sorry...

Apparently I'm lately just plain incapable of sticking to any kind of acceptable posting cycle and I would like to apologise for that.

Plenty has happened in the last two months, almost too much to figure out where to start writing about it all and time appears to be slipping away from me before I can grasp it and set at least a little bit of it aside for some writing pleasure.

I will try my best to produce a couple of posts to update everyone on what's been going on, I just need to find the time...and the right words. There are some things I can't share just yet and then there are plenty of things I would like to write about, especially my short holiday in Hainan at the beginning of September.

Sometimes I think it's a miracle that other bloggers, who seemingly have more on their plates than me, still find the time to post regularly. Can I blame my ridiculous working hours and the fact that I'm sometimes just too tired to reach for my laptop and write? Sometimes reaching for my iPad and watching a couple of episodes of whatever TV show is occupying my free time seems a lot easier to accomplish.

I'll try to better myself so bear with me and don't go running away because I promise you I do have some juicy stories for you. You'll be sad if you miss them.

With that said, I'll love and leave you with a cliffhanger.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Darker Side Of Life In China

With today's events I think I might've seen it all, though I truly am not sure.

Almost a year into my China adventure, China still manages to shock me and rattle me right down to my very core.

Today was a rather bland day, I felt somewhat off in the morning and opted the one medicine that will never fail me: calling my dad.

After an almost one-hour long chat I had to get ready for work and left the house as usual. I had prepared some lunch and two apples to take to work and was listening to music.

Five minutes into my walk to work I spotted a large crowd of people ahead and initially I didn't think anything about it. A new fruit supermarket opened a few days ago just where the crowds had gathered so I assumed it was just another promotion......until I took a closet look and spotted fire brigade and police cars ahead.

Something felt very off and I wondered whether a fire had broken out in one of the apartment buildings above the countless of shops lining the street. I found myself looking up, my eyes following the long resuce ladder the fire brigade had put up and I found myself looking at a men perched on the small metal letter leading up the electricity pole. Two men inside the basket at the top of the resuce ladder seemed to try and talk to him and it didn't take rocket science for me to guess that the man hadn't climbed up that pole to enjoy the scenery. He was trying to jump but didn't appear to have the "guts" required to go through with it.

On the opposite side of the street onlookers were taking pictures and videos and simply lingering around, watching the scene unfold. My heart dropped, disgusted by the sight, and I walked faster, just wanting to get away and not join the crowds.

I arrived at work feeling all worked up and vexed. I'd never thought I'd never see someone wanting to end their own life but now I have and it's upsetting to say the least.

I do not know the outcome of the story but I hope the police and the fire brigade talked some sense into the man and got him to agree to come down and not be so foolish as to leave his family grieving for him after such a public, self-inflicted early departure from life.

I hope to track down some news to get closure.

I reckon I'm on my way to "having seen it all" but today's sight was not one I expected to see nor one I was yearning to see. Call this a therapeutic post for writing is after all balm for the soul and that's what I need right now.

In the meantime I'll quietly say a little prayer.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Passport Renewal Fun in China


My pretty new passport.

It doesn't look any different from my previous passport but it is. For the first time I have a lovely passport picture which I can stomach showing to people for the next 10 years. My passport also has more pages, because, well you never know, and it now says "Wuhan, China" as my place of residency instead of "Dublin, Ireland". My very first passport said "Koblenz, Germany". I wonder what my next passport might say...

When I consciously realised that I had to renew my passport and couldn't (for visa renewal purposes) ignore next year's expiry date any longer, I resolutely surfed the website of the German embassy to get all the details of the things I would need. 

I was somewhat afraid, scratch that, I was very afraid because when I had to renew my passport in Ireland I had to pay the embassy four visits before they were finally happy to accept my application. You see, Germany loves bureaucracy and German embassies are no different. I still can't get over what they did to my photograph in 2009, the photo didn't look that hideous when I had it taken in Germany (precaution due to the insane biometric requirements the embassy has) but somehow the photo looked hideous once it was inside my passport.

The same biometric requirements for the passport photo gave me a solid migraine. How do you explain to someone in the country of 差不多 (cha bu duo / almost, okay, good enough) that you can't accept any of their attempts at pleasing you because it doesn't meet the requirements your embassy has.

I tried in vain to have passport pictures taken here in Wuhan but the outcome didn't match any of the requiremts I specified, even though I was very clear with my instructions.

In the end I went to the one photo studio in Beijing, which the German embassy recommends, and I had my picture taken there. I chanced all my luck because even the embassy said that the photo studio mightn't get things right on the first try.  But they did do a fabulous job! Everything worked out just fine and I got the photo I needed from them!


I'm not even going to show you failed attempt from the photo studio here in Wuhan, it looks hideous! If you are German and you need to renew your passport in China "Gold One Photo Studio" is where you go, it will make your life a lot smoother.

I took an entire day just to sort out the passport debacle, since I wanted to a to avoid trouble. I enjoyed a more or less good breakfast before I set out to find the photo studio. Three subway changes and a short walk later I had what I needed plus a rumbling stomach that made me chase a nice place for lunch and then I continued my passport renewal quest. It required a taxi ride and an uncomfortable walk in the dry heat. Once I was inside the embassy I just had get a number  and wait a little while, and then got to submit my application.

To be honest I was really worried they might find some reason not to accept my application and send me back to get more things for them but it all went fine and without a hitch. I asked for express processing and after handing over a lot of cash I was told I'd be notified in two weeks to come and pick up my passport. That was the bad news... Unfortunately the German embassy in China does not send out any passports, while the German embassy in Ireland does...or at least they did in 2009.

Fortunately for me I have friends in Beijing and one of them agreed to pick up my passport and send it to me. It was a piece of cake, really, I expected my passport renewal to be painful but it wasn't. The German embassy in China clearly knows what they are doing!


Here's to continued good relations between Germany and China!