I traveled to my home country's embassy today to pick up some tax information and forms (thinking their sources might be better than what I could get online and hoping I could ask someone about the proper form to file as an American living and workin abroad). I showed my passport to the Chinese embassy guard standing at the sidewalk entrance. He let me through. Then I walked up the empty line for U.S. citizens between two lines of many Chinese citizens. I got to the head of the line with my passport in hand thinking that surely I'd be welcomed and ushered in right away. Wrong!
Chinese Embassy Guard Guy: Do you have an appointment?
Me: Um, no.
Chinese Embassy Guard Guy: Why are you here?
Me: I want to pick up some tax documents.
Chinese Embassy Guard Guy: So you're here for the American Citizen Services.
Me: Yes! Right!
Chinese Embassy Guard Guy: Yes, you must wait until 2:00
Me: Looking around at all the Chinese citizens being ushered through the doors, "This is my embassy but I can't go inside?"
Chinese Embassy Guard Guy: That's right. You must wait until 2:00.
Me: Okay, okay.
Within 10 minutes, however, I was shown through amidst all the Chinese citizens seeking visas to visit the America. I gave up my mobile phone, my ear buds for said phone, AA batteries in my purse (for my camera...uh, Seven's camera), and then put my purse on the x-ray machine conveyor belt. Oops. Seems a USB cord I had in my purse was also not allowed. They put all my belongings in a plastic tray, gave me my number to claim it when I exited, and I was in! :) I walked on through and back into the open air toward another entrance (past nice fountains) and was shown upstairs where I can get the needed tax information. I got what I needed, reclaimed my possessions, and left. I never once saw an American employee in said embassy. ha I talked to one guy who was there to add pages to his passport and he gave me good information on filing taxes. As I left I looked down from the second floor (an atrium) upon all the Chinese citizens queuing up for their "interview" with a visa employee. Many of them would be denied visas. It's not a simple task to get a visa to enter the U.S. as a Chinese citizen. "Do you have relatives living in America?" "Yes!" Boom! Refused. Seems we are too afraid that they might take up residence in the States and not return. Sad. The Ayi (maid) at my place of employment has a brother who lives in Chicago. She's been denied the necessary visa to visit him. It's just one of many, many stories of visa refusals.
So I exited the Embassy and walked down the street to a supermarket that sells lots of import foods and bought lots of comfort food, including Goldfish, Mac & Cheese, chips & salsa, refried beans, tortillas, extra sharp cheddar cheese, and a Duncan Hines cake mix and can of frosting (which I'm going to attempt to "bake" in my crockpot). I also bought, among other items, three cans of delicious ROOT BEER!!!!
Here's a couple of shots of the new CCTV Tower, which I was close to when I exited the bus from my trip to Tanshan last week.
During Spring Festival, some exploding fireworks caused a devastating fire in the building you can see through and behind the CCTV Tower. Seven tells me one firefighter died. Tragic. T.