Day one in Beijing. Getting my police registration form. What to expect when you arrive.
17.08.2012 30 °C
When I first arrived in Beijing it was well past sundown. I feared doing anything outside because I did not have my police registration form. This is something all foreigners need to have once the arrive in china. We are supposed to register with the local police station. Ive read articles of how important this was to do or you could be picked up by an officer and brought to jail. There have been recent crackdowns on illegals in Beijing. However, I did not feel alarmed or even rushed to get one. My rental agent said she would take me in the morning and she did, but insisted that Beijing is safe and nothing would have happened to me had I gone for a walk. She said " America is dangerous, everyone have guns." Coming from a person in a communist country that made me laugh. I guess our view of them isn't what it should be. Everyone seems really friendly here. Ill do a more thorough investigation into their laws in the near future. But seriously this place is so crowded with people I can't imagine anyone stopping me. Still, this is the first thing you should do. Apparently it has to be done by a certain time because they either close or stop doing it at 1130 am. (one week later and still no one has approached me about it.)
So, before all the crazy whistles, horns music and chanting began I decided to go for a walk anyway. Didnt seem like much at 7 am but with time, the restaurants, cafes, stores, and shopping malls all began to open. This is Beijing and this place is huge. I currently reside in lido in Chaoyang district. I was told this was a more western area, but I havent seen more than 4 white people outside the terminal. There are more Chinese doing more things in more places than Ive ever seen before. Everyone, is working, everyone is on a bus, everyone is crossing the street, everyone has a motor bike, everyone is everywhere.
Getting a phone: Activating your cell phone from home here can be tricking, but it can be done. I brought an iphone 3 g to China and the school im working with gave me prepaid Sim card. I can make local calls now with no problem. Some of the latest versions of ios need to be jail broken and unlocked. The guy at the store knew exactly what to do. Getting your phone unlocked isn't difficult you just have to know how to say it in Chinese. It helps to have someone who speaks the language. Otherwise I never would have got this done. I literally don't know how to ask for anything. Ive met very few people who speak English here so far. If you don't have a phone, there are plenty of models available at china mobile. The prices seemed comparable to ours. You can get a simple phone for 50 bux. If you pay a little more here it isn't the end of the world so long as its good quality. The big difference here is that you pay before you use. No plans, no late charges etc... I guess this is why our country is in so much debt. but that caught me off guard cause my damn phone wasn't working and i didn't realize i had to get it refilled. You can go to any news stand and buy a prepaid card for 30 50 or 100rmb. then I had to do this again and I said to myself what the heck is going on I havnt even used this phone. I went to the newspaper stand and wrongly accused the guy of giving me a bad card a couple days later. I didn't win this argument. However, i found out from a woman at work that it was my data plan that was sucking the juice out of my cards. Make sure you turn of your 3G and roaming or you will have this problem when you come.
Opening a bank card. I cant stress enough how important it is to either speak Chinese or be with a local to help you do this. I stare at people and I have no idea what to say back. "yes" and "no" make no sense to them. Instead its "Shi" (shirr) and "Bu" like (boo). My rental agent was nice enough to take me around and get all this done together. I'm really gonna have to make some friends here. Anyway, you have to take a ticket and wait for your number to be called. Its kind of like the DMV! Once you see your number blinking (because they wont call it in English) go up and fill out a form with your passport. Did I mention you need your passport for a lot of things on the first couple days? Deposit a few bucks in there and then you can use the ATM for pretty much any transaction after that. Oddly enough, the bank is also where you pay your water bill and put money on your card for your electricity (same concept as the cell phone).
Ohhh...Let me just add that there are a lot of tall Chinese men in China. Before I left a lot of my friends and family said "your gonna be the tallest person there!" Turns out Im not. There are many many tiny people in China but there are also a lot of large men. You may not see them on every corner, and they certainly don't bulk up like us Americans, but when you walk by one you can't help but notice how much taller they are than the others.
It will make you life a lot easier if you are in contact with you work, school or company before you come. Having someone by your side is essential if you don't live in a touristy location.