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Remember my passport/visa problem (silly asinine)?

Here’s the low-down: I have a German passport that expires in October 2009. And I have a Chinese visa that’s about to expire by the end of this month.

No way I can walk home with a passport like that, and I can’t get out of China by the end of August either.

Two problems I needed to tackle.

That’s why I had gone back to Beijing in March – to apply for a new passport.

Today, I went to my embassy…

taking my passport to the German embassy

…and finally picked up my brand-spanking new German passport:

in the embassy

It looked very pretty and had 48 pages.

Then I took both my old and new passports to the police station and got a notice of residence.

One question remained though: just how would I get a new visa during these troubled times?

The authorities had been extremely tight about giving out visa during the last few months, and I had even heard of regular short-term tourists who had been refused.

I can’t tell you anything specific, but I think maybe I can get a new visa anyhow:

getting a visa

We’ll know within a week.

I am renting a room in an apartment in the west part of the city, and the best thing about it is I am sharing the apartment with my good friend from Munich/Beijing:

My friend Lilu invited me to be flatmates in Beijing for a while

It’s Lilu!

After all these nights in hotels and temples and tents and whatever else I had slept in, I was very happy to arrive in a place that I could call home for a little while – and I was even happier that I had a good friend there! If you have a friend, you can get together with even more friends and go out to eat all the time – that’s so awesome!

Today when we came back from a Japanese restaurant though, we witnessed something rather disturbing.

There was this young girl laying in the street; someone was holding her, and there seemed to be a lot of blood around her head. This was at a street crossing, so there quickly was a rather large crowd gathering that gathered around the site.

“She’s an epileptic” a person screamed in Chinese, “make sure she doesn’t bite her tongue!”

Someone else had already called an ambulance.

This is where it got a bit weird though, because after 3 minutes, it wasn’t the medics who got to the site:

crowd gathering around accident

It was a special vehicle from the anti-terror squad 武警防暴:

guy in camouflage

Four dudes with assault rifles jumped out and quickly secured the area, only to find out that there was no need for them unless they could provide some kind of first aid.

They apparently couldn’t, so they chose to stand around some more and continue securing the area.

People got unhappy and started demanding the ambulance to get there.

It was pretty heavy looking at the poor young girl laying there in her blood, with her eyes open wide and her mouth held open by another person.

We waited for another few minutes, then a police car got there:

people trying to help

“Nobody here asked for the police!” people would tell the officer, “the girl needs an ambulance!!”

We anxiously waited around for another few minutes.

“It’s been 14 minutes – how can they be so slow?” a lady next to me asked another person.

The other person didn’t know what to say either.

Then the medics finally arrived and took the poor girl to the hospital, leaving only a small pool of blood as a witness to what had happened here tonight:

photographing the blood

That’s the story, and here’s my train of thought:

Well first I was thinking: the central government obviously puts public safety over the well-being of the individual. That’s why the anti-terror squad and the police got there in time and the ambulance didn’t. It’s an outrage.

Then I figured: well, maybe during these few days the heavy focus on public safety is actually understandable. It’s special times during the Olympics, and safety-wise, I agree that absolutely nothing must go wrong.

But then later, when the whole thing had been over already, something else came to my mind: what if this had happened in Germany? Obviously, I would have been upset with the hospital that was supposed to provide medical service for this area. Or I would have blamed the people who worked the emergency phone lines. But I probably wouldn’t have thought that the government was willing or even able to micro-manage every incident as small as this one.

Maybe we’re politicizing too much sometimes?

Robozwerg says:

“A very unpolitical thought:

the new passport expires in ten years. If we’re lucky we might read a blog that day with a very long bearded Chris walking around… well, wherever he managed to arrive that day.”

  • John

    Another poignant, though sad, story. but i'm glad to hear you have your brand spanking new passport, and also that you are in beijing for 8-8-08. i hope you witnessed the fireworks display over the bird's nest. it was simply awesome, and it was awesome to witness on tv the opening ceremonies inside the nest. what a spectacular show! the chinese must be very proud right now.


  • Kevin

    Here in China drivers don't get out of the way for ambulances. In Shanghai ambulances can flash their lights and blare their sirens all they want but drivers just do not move aside. Ambulances are simply ignored. It's one of the most amazing and disgusting behaviors I've seen in China. Drivers do get out of the way for police because the police yell at them with loudspeakers and threaten to arrest the drivers if they don't move aside. I can't explain it – it would seem that people just don't give a damn about other people – or care enough.


  • Florian (Flo Li Anh,

    Na wenn das mal kein Grund ist. Dann musst du ja nur noch Passierschein A38 abholen jetzt, dann kanns weitergehen.
    Der Robozwerg mag aber Recht haben. Wenn das so weitergeht, wie Ba Llli auch schon sagte, wann willst du denn eigentlich ankommen in B.N.? So kann man sich seinen Schnitt auch kaputt machen. 3 Tage Wandern, 10 Tage Pause…
    Viel Glück trotzdem für das Visum!!!


  • Barry aka Ba Lli

    Mit den Badelatschen wird das aber nix: Visum abgelehnt!


  • Corinna

    Will Euch im Watercube, oder beim Beach Volleyball im Publikum jubeln sehen!!!! Bitte ein recht freundliches Winken an uns in die Kamera 😉 !!!



  • Florian (Flo Li Anh,

    Ojé! Hier passiert ja absolut nichts mehr. Christoph, Hilfe!!! Ich bekomm schon Entzugserscheinungen. Was mach ich nur?


  • Achille

    would u mind if i say something different to the illed girl story.
    I am a local resident in a medium sized city in china. if people call ambulance,it would be arriving in less then 10 mins. So i think the efficiency of beijing first aid is probably the same as my town's. Besides, authorities do care people's well-being to be exact. of course the extent of caring may be not as good as most developed countries. Anyways, we are improving step by step:)
    In a word, my explanation for the late ambulance is people probably called 110 instead of 120 then, Cuz peopel used to made this mistake here in china.


  • Anonymous

    Ich denk' auch, dass in Deinem letzten Satz viel Wahrheit liegt, aber die zwei Gesichter Chinas machen es auch sehr schwer Vertrauen zu bilden. Mich wundert mehr, dass bei dieser Menschenansammlung KEINER dabei war, der erste Hilfe bei einem epileptischen Anfall leisten konnte oder wollte (stabilisieren, Freiraum und Sicherheit vor weiteren Verletzungen schaffen bis Status vorbei ist, danach Blut stillen von der Platzwunde, vermutlich war sie am Beginn des Anfalls gestürzt…).
    @in Anlehnung an Rubis Gedanken:
    Heja- Dann hast Du ja richtig lange 10 Jahre Zeit, nach BND zurückzupilgern, wenn Du noch über Kapstadt wanderst, kannst Du bei der nächsten Fußball-WM mit dabei sein oder vielleicht geht Olympia 2016 nach Tokio, wenn Du noch mal'n Stück zurück gehst, haha???


  • Christoph

    John: Awesome show indeed!! 🙂
    Kevin: I'm not sure if I've ever seen any behavior like the one you mentioned about the ambulances. I'll keep my eyes open and try to see for myself though.
    Hermann: Danke!
    Florian (Flo Li Anh, 開花): Schnitte sind schön, aber was soll ich machen.
    Barry aka Ba Lli: Makucke.
    Corinna: Haha, wir würden auch echt gerne, aber keine Tickets!!
    Achille: Thank you very much for this detailed explanation. Actually I had also come to the conclusion that this was not a general problem or a political issue, but rather that there had been a weak link in the chain somewhere. Just like I said in the last line: maybe we’re politicizing too much sometimes?
    andy aka Anh Di 勇敢: Doch klar, da haben doch Leute geholfen und das arme Mädchen gehalten und alles. Ich weiß aber nicht, inwieweit das fachkundige Erste Hilfe war. Ist auch im Text vielleicht nicht ganz klar geworden, mein Fehler.


  • janni

    Ach, scheiß auf den Schnitt… vor Dir liegen doch eh jetzt die Etappen, wo es eher weniger "Ablenkung" (mal so euphemistisch gesprochen) gibt, Du also vermutlich ein bissl straighter marschieren wirst.

    Was mir allerdings nicht ganz klar ist, wie sieht denn Dein Zeitplan für die Gebirge im Westen aus? Irgendwie (ohne jetzt die Geographie zu sehr parat zu haben) hab ich das Gefühl, dass Du irgendwo unterbrechen mußt, um zu überwintern. Ist das korrekt? OK, Du bist recht weit südlich unterwegs, aber ich glaub in Kasachstan und Kirgisistan kanns auch ordentlich frisch werden.


  • Florian (Flo Li Anh,

    Das sagst Du so einfach. Der Herr Rehage findet immer irgendeinen Flughafen um sich "aus dem Staub zu machen" 😉


  • Christoph

    janni: Gute Frage, sehr gute Frage. Weiß noch nicht. 😉
    Florian (Flo Li Anh, 開花): Habe ich schon erwähnt, dass ich eigentlich gar nicht laufe sondern mit einem New Beetle durch die Gegend fahre?


  • Josie Ella

    Very prophetic.

    Robozwerg says:

    “A very unpolitical thought:

    the new passport expires in ten years. If we’re lucky we might read a blog that day with a very long bearded Chris walking around… well, wherever he managed to arrive that day.”


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