Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chengdu mis-adventures

So I really wanted to post about what I'll miss in Jiuzhaigou and what I really could do without ever having to deal with again (i.e., flatmates who wash their hair in the middle of the bathroom). But, we had some adventures today that I think are worth telling.

Yesterday as we were leaving Jiuzhaigou I got a note from our Chengdu flatmate that I had a letter from the police. Strange. So I was a bit anxious about it. Josh and I talked it over and decided that he had probably gotten a speeding ticket at a particular spot of the road to Jiuzhaigou - well into Aba Prefecture - on our last drive back up there. At least if we got one ticket we would know that we don't have others that will show up when we sell the car.

So we arrived in Chengdu in the middle of the afternoon and discovered that it was indeed a speeding ticket, but for when we had driven down to Chengdu prior to Thanksgiving. And after some deciphering I discovered that he was going at <150% of the speed limit, which is really good (license suspension over that). And we saw some possible places to pay. So I got on the internet and although google maps didn't help, baidu maps (the Chinese search engine) showed me that one spot was about 2 km from the house. Note, the ticket was in my English name - the name the car is registered in - but we were sure Josh was driving. Since he isn't coming back to China in the summer and I am, we needed the points on his license, not mine.

This morning we got up and decided we'd drive to pay the ticket because the car needed gas anyway. We had no trouble finding the place and I got out to get in line while Josh parked. Some guys at the gate laughed at me, a white woman, walking into the traffic police station. They said, "What are you doing" (in English) and so I responded (also in English), "Paying a traffic ticket, what are you doing?". They giggled at me. I was armed with 2 passports, 3500 RMB cash, 2 driver's licenses (Chinese), and the car registration.

I stood in the nearest line I could see. It looked like a staging ground to get into a room to watch TV, only they weren't letting anyone in. Turns out it was the line for the reeducation class on traffic laws (if you get 12 points on your license in a year). It's a 30 min video shown 10 times a day and you need proof of having watched it to get to drive again. I started to think it was the wrong place, so I went to see if the other building was the right place. They sent me back to the first line. After about 10 minutes Josh arrived and then the people working inside the TV room started to get curious. They asked to see our licenses and registration. I showed one guy. Then another lady came and she asked about it. I showed them to her. She said, "Foreigners can't stand here". We didn't know where else to go, so we waited. A few minutes later the guy came back and said, "You go over to the other building and ask if you can pay without going through this program. He can wait here".

I wandered over to the other building and told the lady at the desk that my husband was the one with the speeding ticket but since he doesn't speak Chinese, it was useless to make him watch the video. Could we just pay instead? She sent me to counter 3 where I explained myself again. The woman looked up the car registration and discovered that Josh actually had 2 tickets. She also explained that he had 10 points on his license (out of the 12 max for a year). It was to be a RMB150 fine. No problem. I forged Josh's signature of his fake Chinese name 6 times on 2 pieces of paper and she sent me to pay. I paid and we got 2 receipts and left. Phew.

After getting gas and going home to switch from car to bike mode, we picked up a gorgeous calligraphy for my office (铭贤) and ordered one for our house (属犬吠日, or Sichuan dog barks at the sun, a Tang Dynasty saying) and went in search of a place to get me a down skirt and Josh down pants. On the way south on Renmin Nan Lu (the major N-S road through town), Josh had a head on collision with a woman on an electric bike of death riding the wrong direction. Her lip skin and some blood is currently residing on his shoulder. She was bleeding everywhere out of her lip. Josh was bleeding everywhere out of his hand. After recovering ourselves for a few minutes and making sure the other lady was reasonably ok (she didn't bite through her lip, thank goodness), I called Kandice to consult on where to take Josh. We decided on the foreign clinic at the major hospital associated with the Sichuan U medical school (华西医院). The lady who ran into Josh was going to accompany us but asked if we needed her and we said no. We biked there rather tentatively on the wrong side of the road. Once we made it to the hospital and safely locked our bikes, we went inside and they told us to go to the out patient clinic. So we walked over there. They told us to go to the emergency room. So we walked over there. In our bike shoes. With Josh bleeding everywhere out of his hand.

Finally we got to the emergency room and registered him. I filled out a form and dumbly used his English name. By the time we paid for registration (10 RMB), his name had become joshvasulilt. Oops. Should have used either the name on his license (韩帅) or his Tibetan/Chinese name (扎西). We wandered in circles for a while and finally found the triage room for emergencies involving blood (as far as we could tell). They sat us down, someone looked at his hand, and we were sent to get an x-ray and a shot. But first we had to go pay. I hate Chinese hospitals. You always have to wander back and forth to the payment desk. Josh objected to the shot. We figured out it was tetanus and that he had one in February. So we told the woman ordering these things that he didn't need the shot. She said we'd just have to sign that he refused it. Fine. So she reprinted our order w/o the tetanus shot. I paid while Josh sat and rested for a bit. RMB179. Not so bad. then we went for x-rays and had to find the x-ray technician. She finally was found with the help of people waiting for CT Scans (CAT scans, I think). The x-ray table was covered in dried blood. EEEW.

Back to the triage room where they finally cleaned Josh's hand, put iodine and cream on it, and decided he needed 2 stitches. Did Josh want the anesthesia? Yes. So he got shots and then 2 stitches in one cut. We had another argument about the tetanus shot (at this point I called Kandice to confirm that it really was tetanus they were asking about and that he really didn't need it). I had to sign a few forms, the doctor wrote up a report in the computer, the x-ray came back with no problems, and we were good to go. We'll go back Monday to get the stitches out.

Now we are safely sitting in Starbucks drinking lots of coffee (they messed up our drinks so we both ended up with a tall whole milk toffee latte and a grande non-fat latte (Josh's 2nd one is also toffee)), using the internet, and relaxing from the stressful morning.

a :)

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