Friday, 8 June 2007

Darn diddly arn darn crap!

Aahh it had to happen sooner or later. China has banned blogger/blogspot right now so I cannot even view my own blog. Luckily I was already prepared for this and found out I can use to view and edit my site. It's a bit of a hassle but better than nothing!

Let's hope the big bad censors hurry up and go away and find better things to worry about than someone's blog. It's a bit unfair to censor a whole blog site (with thousands of blogs on it) just because of a few worrying ones, don't you think? :(

The Medical Test

Yes, it's such a big deal it has capital letters :)

Without the medical test you can't get a long-term visa to stay in the country, and without that visa, well... you'd better get packing!

On the morning of Monday 14th May Mike and I set off to do our big medical. My mother also came along to help us with any translations. We had to bring our passports and 2 passport-sized photos with us.

The center is located on Jinbang Rd, near Hami Rd, in the Gubei area, which wasn't too far for us, only a quick taxi ride (although it took longer than usual being peak hour).

We were met by a young lady who were there to help us translate/interpret.

It was our 8th day in Shanghai and I had never seen so many non-Chinese people in the one place! And those that were Chinese looking (like myself) were born/bred elsewhere.

We filled in a form (and had to get my mother to write our address for us - how embarrassing. Not only did we not know it because we hadn't lived there for 24 hours yet, we couldn't write all the characters).

Then we sat around for a while before being called in to do our many and varied tests.

First we had to get all our details (from the form) recorded into the computer. They also took our photo which was stored in the computer and used to make sure we were the same person each time we did each test, so the results would be accurate and never mixed up with someone else's.

Then, we had to get changed into a one size fits all robe (which meant it was about 6 sizes too big for me!) and booties to fit over our shoes. The chinese are anal about not wearing dirty shoes inside a house, or anywhere that should be clean.

From memory there was:
* an eye test (simple eye test where you read the rows of letters, and a colour blindness test)
* height and weight recorded
* blood pressure recorded, and pulse rate
* listening to our lungs with stethoscope
* a full chest x-ray
* ultrasound of our internal organs - liver, pancreas?? not sure what exactly.
* blood tests testing for AIDS, syphilis and just a general check up.
* weird test where we had to be naked from the stomach up and they pressed on parts of our body and check our knees?? what the-?
* there may have been a temperature check but I can't remember now.

There were all these separate little rooms and it ran like clockwork. You had a piece of paper with you and they ticked each one off as you went, and then you were instructed to go into the next room. The order didn't matter.

After we finished, we had to pay around 700-750 RMB each for doing the exam. It seems like a lot of money but for all those things it's a bargain compared to Australia!

I was so glad when it was all over though. It was a particularly bad day for me to be doing it given the night before I had a mild fever and was sweating hot/cold, my pulse was beating very fast (as it turned out - 93 bpm) and I just generally felt very very unwell. I had to admit I lied and didn't tell them I had asthma - shhh!

We got our results back on Wednesday 6th June, 1 month to the day we arrived. It was a very comprehensive medical report - I've never seen anything like it before. We were both normal and healthy thank God and therefore passed the test, and could stay in the country!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Banking in China

This post, like pretty much all my other posts should be backdated.. but.. meh.

We arrived in Shanghai on the evening of 6th May. 2 days later, on Thurs 8th May we went to the bank to open an account. During the first week of May in China there is a week long public holiday. Because of this, the banks would be very very crowded and the queues would be very long when we tried to go.

Fortunately, my mother's relative had a special 'gold' or premium account at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. So Mike and I went with him to his bank. He also had to go anyway. We thought we could get served quickly but after waiting almost an hour, this was still considered 'fast' service. I'm sure the other people there would have been waiting many many hours. And that was when it first hit me, there are soooo many more people here. We're talking 18 million in ONE CITY compared to 20.7 million for the entire COUNTRY of Australia. Wow.

A few weeks later, after we got the internet connected, it occured to me.. that we should set up internet banking. However, I was scared. I was now very very scared of the Chinese people. The woman who served us at the bank was possibly one of the most unhelpful people I had come across in China, and not a good first impression. She has scared me from ever going back to the bank - ever!

On 30th May I decided I wanted to set up internet banking but got scared that I may have to call the bank or go into the bank. I know some Mandarin but my Chinese is not that great (I have the vocab of a 5-6 year old) and since I didn't have any money in there anyway I just kind of forgot about it.

Then, a few nights ago, Mike decided to have a go doing it himself. In Australia there is a series of security measures you have to do before setting up internet banking. For eg, when I set it up at Commonwealth (the biggest bank in Australia) I had to fill out a form at the bank and give them THREE passwords. A few weeks later they rang me up on the phone to confirm these three passwords - by which time I'd practically forgotten them. I got 2 pretty easily but had trouble with the third. The lady was kind enough to hint and I finally got it.

So with this in mind I assumed it would a similar thing here, but nope. It was actually easier!! Mike did it all himself without a single phone call or anything.

He went to the website (linked above) and filled in the details from our keycard, our password, and voila. We made an online account. And it was so easy because it was all in English - hallelujah!!

I changed the language!

I can't believe it was under my nose the whole time. I was speaking to a friend on MSN about how I couldn't figure out how to get the comments etc links to be in English instead of Chinese.. then I started playing around and found the section where I could do it. It was a real 'slap forehead' moment, where I felt so stupid that I didn't even bother to look for it for weeks, and just assumed it was like that because I registered this blog in China?!