Sunday, January 07, 2007

2007 - So Far, So Good

Once again I begin with an apology for not writing much. I wish I had more excitement in my life to share with you all, but.....I don't.

So, the party on 12/23 was a success, we had fun, ate lots of good food (including some homemade hot and sour soup that Ye Ying and Xuan Yi made), I drank lots of beer, my Korean friend Kayun drank too much pear cognac and fell asleep on the couch for awhile, and the tiramisu was awesome. So awesome that I made a second batch, which turned out not quite as good since I used too much espresso. Next time I'm experimenting with making my own invention, Kahluamisu.

Kayun stayed with me for a few days last week. She had to give up her apartment on Wednesday, so she showed up at my front door Wednesday a.m. with her huge suitcase in tow and stayed until she left yesterday at 5:00 a.m. Silly girl had booked an 8:30 a.m. flight back to Korea! So, she had to take a cab to Yuanshan MRT station to get the airport bus. I hope she made it on time, haven't heard from her yet. I'm really going to miss her.

Oh, getting the visa extension was a bit of a kerfuffle this time. My visa was due to expire on January 2, so I went to the Taipei County police department in Banqiao the week before, on Wednesday. The last time I went there, there was no MRT, just a bus, so taking MRT I wasn't sure if I needed to go to the police station close to the Banqiao station or the one at Fuzhong (they are very close), so I tried Banqiao first. Nope, the folks there said I needed to go to the one close to Fuzhong, so Kayun (who kindly accompanied me) and I walked there. After arriving at that police station, they said, "Nope! You need to go to yet another station." Well, OK, we don't mind walking, finally got to the place I'd gone to before, and I got a form and started to fill it out while Kayun went to get a number. They had a sign posted there, only in Chinese, not in English, telling foreigners that if their visas expire after 12/29, they have to wait until January 2 and go to a new office to get their extensions. Kayun was trying to figure out what the sign meant (we both read Chinese pretty darned well but this was complicated), but she didn't quite understand it all and finally asked a clerk, and he told her. She was shocked that they would post such an important notice only in Chinese and expect foreigners to be able to understand it, and she proceeded to tell them how stupid that was (not exactly the best thing to do, but she was right). I didn't know any of this was happening; I was still filling out my form. We were very confused, and the clerk drew us a little map and told us to go to the new location. OK, so we walked a little way, went past number 168, which looked like a police station, looking for number 166. There was a brand-new office being worked on, still not open, and we asked the workers if that was number 166. They pointed back the way we came. We returned to 168, where we found a police officer. Asked him where 166 was, he pointed back at the workers. WTF? Finally, we just walked back to the police station and told the guy there that the office at the address he gave us wasn't open yet. "Right," he says, "you have to come back on January 2." "But that's the day my visa EXPIRES. Isn't that cutting it a bit close? What if I'm sick that day? Can't I apply for the extension today?" He goes and asks some other guy, who finally explained to me that the government was moving the handling of visa extensions to the immigration department, and that the police department will no longer be responsible, and that there is simply no way I could apply for the extension until January 2.

I was really worried about having to wait until the last day, because one other person told me that when her friend waited until the final day, he was told he had to leave the country and apply for another visa! But I had no choice but to wait until the 2nd and was afraid they might tell me "no" when I went. I thought about buying a plane ticket to Hong Kong on Tuesday just in case, but then decided I should just hope for the best. Everything turned out fine. Kayun and I went bright and early because we figured there'd be a crowd. The office was a madhouse, tons of others who had had to wait all piled in, the poor workers hadn't been provided with essentials, like calendars, so they had to count on their fingers to figure out dates for visa extensions, and the woman helping me kept her cool despite being so overwhelmed.

So now I'm good until March 3, when I will be applying for the Alien Residency Certificate (ARC) to avoid having to keep leaving the country. That will also propose a problem, since I have to apply two weeks before my visa expires. Here's the hitch: school closes February 10 through February 25 for Chinese New Year. They, and all government offices, will also be closed February 28 for a national holiday. So the week before my visa expires, there are four working days. I have to have all the paperwork from the school before I can apply for the ARC. I have to wait three days from the day I ask the school for the paperwork before I can get it. So, if I ask on 2/26, I can't pick them up until 3/1, which would again be cutting it way, way close. But applying before the holiday closure is probably too soon, so who knows what I'll do? Not me, that's for sure.

Taiwan finally got some cold wintery weather. We went from balmy days in the upper 70s to upper 40s, low 50s. It's still not super cold, especially inside the house, but I now need to wear a jacket. Been a bit rainy, too, which always makes it feel colder than it is. The long-range forecast says we'll be back to high 60s, low 70s by the 13th. Maybe, we'll see. I just hope it's nice in February when Cheryl comes to visit.

Doris from Hong Kong arrived Thursday, and Nat, Charlene, Betty, Xiao Niu, and I joined her for a wonderful dinner at Shanghai Dumpling. I love that place, especially since we get such a great discount, as it's owned by the company Nat and Charlene work for. I passed on going with Nat and Doris to Miaoli yesterday. They were going to go to the hotspring, and I don't do hotspring, plus they were spending the night. I can't afford to spend much money now, since I'm not making any. What I have in the bank has to carry me through four years of university, so I'm saving the bucks for Wu Bai & China Blue related stuff!

I managed to waste all of my Saturday yesterday, doing absolutely nothing except dinking around online and reading, with a tiny bit of timeout for meeting with a young lady named Vivi who wants some help with English. Her family owns the convenience store by my house, and I've chatted with her off and on since I moved here. She truly wants to study English but can't figure out how to pronounce words she doesn't know, so she gets intimidated. I told her I'd try to find some phonics stuff online to help out, because I don't understand the method they use here in Taiwan to try to teach the kids English pronunciation.

Need to get my hiney in gear and accomplish something today, so zai jian, see ya, toodles, ta, and all that.


aetherwellen said...

What a mess! I'm glad you got your visa sorted out, and I hope you'll get your ARC without a hitch.

Ranger Steve said...

Gah! Sounds like la migra there is difficult to deal with! I'm glad you were able to get stuff taken care of without beiung booted out of the country :P I hope the next immigration meeting goes smooth!

So do you ever hear from Hiyoshi and what's her name? Or are they people from the past who will remain there?