I’m now back home in Yuxi after a four-day trip to Hong Kong. My business there was obtaining a Chinese work visa, something I had to leave the PRC to do. The Chinese are very clever about Hong Kong: it’s part of China when they they want it to be and it’s not when they don’t. Kind of like Puerto Rico. Or Guantanamo. For my purposes, Hong Kong is a foreign country, which makes it a perfect destination for a visa run. Of course, since Hong Kong really is part of China, my airfare, hotel bill and fees benefit the whole Chinese economy in a way that they wouldn’t if Hong Kong was a truly independent country. As I said: clever.
Early Monday morning, I left my apartment and walked through still-slumbering streets to the “Yuxi Transapertion Center” to hire an intercity taxi. My fellow passengers were an older rural couple dressed like field hands and a stocky twenty-something guy with a mod haircut and rhinestone-studded glasses. After the 80 minute ride to Kunming, I boarded an airport shuttle bus. Three hours later, I was wheels-up on a Hong Kong Express flight east. After clearing customs and immigration, I boarded the train that connects the airport on Lantau to Kowloon and Hong Kong island. At Hong Kong Station, I hailed a taxi. Thus by this declension of car, bus, plane, train, and car did I arrive at the South China Hotel in North Point.
I was here:
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I’ve been to Hong Kong before, but never to North Point. It’s an old Shanghainese neighborhood of shabby apartment towers, wonderful markets, double-decker trolleys, and a few remnants of British colonial architecture. Redevelopment is surely coming; there are already some more contemporary and aesthetic skyscrapers here, and the abundance of construction cranes presages more to come.
On Tuesday morning, I joined a long queue at the “China Resources Building”–essentially the PRC’s embassy in Hong Kong in all but name. The line was Chinese in length but moved with Hong Kongian efficiency. Soon I was handing a packet of 23 documents (passport, health certificates, visa application, diplomas, transcripts, teaching contract, CV, photographs, proof of insurance, criminal records checks, and Chinese translations of all the above) to a pretty young woman who examined and cross-checked each one with a meticulousness that made the 15 minutes I was there feel like an hour. Finally, she said she would be cancelling my old tourist visa and that I could pick up my new work visa the following morning. I left feeling largely relieved, a feeling that became complete when I returned on Wednesday. Mission accomplished: at long last, I now am the holder of a Chinese work visa.