Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Guangzhou Consulate Visit

Jia and I left shortly before 1pm on Tuesday for Guangzhou. There was no way to get to the U.S. consulate by 9am on Wednesday from Shenzhen. Our plan was to find a cheap place to stay nearby and then meet her friend before getting to sleep early.

Finding lodging was more difficult than we thought. The first place was run by the guy I mentioned in the previous post. He really wasn't friendly and I didn't trust him. The second guy to show us a place to stay was only slightly better. Again, we were shown a shared apartment for more than 200 a night--far too much for the quality. Then, the guy mentioned he knew of a nearby hotel that was reasonable. He handed us 100 kuai and said it was OK because he'd get the money back for referring us. This turned out to be a find.

The Jianghe Hotel was only a 7 kuai cab ride from the consulate and it looked clean. There was also an Italian place next door with great prices and food called 37°2 Bistro. There are also two other locations in Guangzhou. Jia had smoked salmon and pesto spaghetti and I had a salmon and mushroom pizza (both quite good).

After checking in, we decided to go meet Jia's friend from university, his girlfriend, and another of his friends at Danny's Bagel. I wrote about this place the last time I was in Guangzhou, but I only tried the bagel there. This time we went all out on dinner. We were there just in time for happy hour (2 for 1 half-liter Tiger beer for 25 kuai). Jia and I split a chicken parm sandwich and sun-dried tomatoes and feta pasta. Jia is still raving about the chicken parm. I have to admit, that sandwich caused my third bout of homesickness in more than two years in China--all because of a sandwich I haven't had in about four years and which costs about $5 back home.

We spent a bit of time talking with Danny about the visa appointment. He gave Jia some pointers about answering questions (which she ended up not needing) and read through our material to see if we had everything we should. We told him he should open a shop in Shenzhen, but I'm thinking we're better off without it--I'd eat there too often and get fat.

After all the material we put together (nearly 40 pages), we didn't need it. The consular officer looked over her application form, asked where she was going, what her job was, what my job was, and when our contracts expire. Apparently, the two officers on either side of Jia's were asking lots of questions. I guess we got lucky. At least now we can really start planning our vacation--I'm still trying to figure out a way of getting out to Denver/Boulder for a little while.

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