The Wandering Continues...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Countdown Beijing - 100 days to go

I don't really follow the Beijing Olympic progress too much and so far I haven't sign up for any ticket either. I heard that it is not easy to get tickets as the government uses the same lucky draw system like the one used for World Cup in Germany in 2006. This simple means that you can register here to buy tickets to the games of your selection, but your registration will go through a lucky draw process and if your name comes out, then you can go ahead and purchase the ticket. Otherwise, you'll have to re-register again (if you opt to do so).

Despite of the developing situation of Tibet, the chinese government has made a lot of efforts to make the olympic a successful event.

1. If you go to Beijing, you will find a number of new buildings currently undergo final finishing stage. The new terminal 3 in Beijing airport, the Olympic bird nest stadium, the national aquatic building for swimming olympic, China National Grand Theater and CCTV Tower are among them.

2. Starting from 1st of May, the chinese government will ban smoking in public places in Beijing. Smoking are only allowed in designated area, the same regulation like currently implemented in Germany. The regulation is in line with the effort to make a smoke-free and healthy olympic. There is rumour that the new regulation will also be implemented in other major cities in China, such as Shanghai and Qingdao but the government has not yet released official statement about it.

3. New visa regulation is also currently in place. Make sure that you have give enough time ahead when you are applying chinese visa. Also prepare very well your travel documentations and supporting documents as the embassy has imposed a strict rule of selections. I have also heard that the price for chinese visa is increased to about 4 times the price before (at least like that in Indonesia) and that the embassy only grant tourist visa with maximum 1 month stay.

Some of my colleagues from the headquater have also difficulties to obtain chinese visa at the moment. One colleague is rejected for visa and another one receives only 3 days visa to China.
For foreigners who are currently residing in China, please make sure that you give enough time when you have to extend your work/residence permit. I have heard many stories that some people receives no extension of their residence permit and therefore has to leave the country. I suppose the process will become more difficult as it gets closer to the olympic games.

4. New travel safety regulation has been implemented since beginning of April. No liquid is allowed in carry on luggage and each passenger is limited to only 1 carry on. There is no tolerance given in the liquid regulation, it means simply no liquid allowed. It doesn't matter if you bring liquid in container smaller than 100 ml or that you purchase the liquid from a duty free item in another airport and the plastic bag is still sealed. My friend is just came back from Vienna where he purchased a bottle of Whisky in the Vienna airport duty free. Unfortunately he has to transfer in Beijing to catch the local flight to Shanghai and the officer in Beijing does not allow him to bring his Vienna-approved-and-sealed-duty-free-Whisky to Shanghai and he has to dispose it in Beijing airport! tolerance!

5. More and more blocked internet sites are now available for browsing in China. I have been able to browse wikipedia, youtube and flickr photos anytime I want to!

6. At last, currency. As many other Asian countries, China is also influenced by the weakening USD and strenghtening EURO. This of course will benefit the European tourists but definetely a set back for the American. You can monitor the official exchange rate development here. As you might already know, China practises a controlled foreign exchange market. The rate you find in Bank of China will be the same rate you'll find in any other banks or money changers.

Prices of foods have also increased significantly in the last quarter as China reported for the first time in history a CPI increase of 8.7% in February. This record high are triggered from various factors, eg. the strenghtening EURO, increase of fuel price in the world and the extreme climate change in south and central China in this winter. China Daily reports here.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Pins are out!

Finally! After 11 months attached to my shoulder, they are finally out! And the truth, they look scary also! Good thing I didn't bother to see how they look before the doctor put them in my shoulder otherwise I will never agree to have the surgery a year ago!

I was very nervous when they prepared me for surgery but the anesthesia doctor was a friendly and efficient german lady and she checked me very thorough and ensured that she will take care of me during the surgery. It was quite a relieved and before I realized, she put me to sleep already.

The recovery (post surgery) went very well also. I stayed one night in the hospital and the nurses were very surprised that I didn't request for any pain killer at all. I also insisted to got back home on the second day as I don't like hospital and its atmosphere in general.

One thing happened on the night at the hospital though. I was half-sleeping when I heard loud noise outside of my room (which is very near to the nurse station). One german lady was talking on the phone in german and she was trying to explain about somebody who had an accident and had a fracture in the bone (she didn't mentioned specifically in which bone). She insisted that an operation needed to be done ASAP and she wanted to have the person in the other side of the line to call her back to the hospital, to the bed number 1210 to be exact! Guess what, THAT WAS MY BED NUMBER!

I was half-asleep and felt already quite annoyed with her loud voice but I tell you now..I was almost jumped out of my bed when she said my bed number loud and clear in german! 1210! I immediately thought that my anesthesia doctor (remember she was also a german lady!) found something in my medical record, came back to arrange another surgery for me for that night!

I immediately thought for the worse to come and I was panic that I started to look for an escape way. Of course I cannot do too much with an I.V. and heart beat monitor attached to my arm. The fact that the room was located on the 12th Floor also didn't give me much option either. So I gave up and I woke Jorge up, hoping he could clarify all the discussions going on outside at that time. I jumped into glory when Jorge came back and said that the lady meant bed number 1310 instead! *Big relieved sigh*

So anyway, the wound is so far healing up good also. The doctor told me that he will remove the stitches on Monday but I have to wear my arm sling for another week and should not carry heavy items for about a month. Other than that, I am good to go back to the office and also to go for holiday! Yay!!!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, 18.04.2008

About three and a half months ago I received a good news from my orthopedic doctor. It looks like that my clavicle bone has grown back together and I should be able to remove the metal pin whenever I want to.

I should be happy, and I am really happy, except that I am no fans of any kind of surgeries. I have cold feet just imagining the sterile surgery room with doctors holding scalpel and trying to cut me open.

To add to my misery, Jorge mistakenly played one movie called “Awake” which tells about a man who suffers “anesthetic awareness” and finds himself awake and aware, but paralyzed, during heart surgery. Trust me, that brings me hundreds steps away from the surgery room!

Anyway, after putting the surgery into on hold for quite sometimes, I have finally given up and have managed to persuade myself into scheduling an appointment for this coming Friday. That was for sure not an easy job. In fact, I choose this Friday on purpose as I have an important deadline to meet at work on the Tuesday before and I intentionally plan for a holiday in the beginning of May (just two weeks after Friday). If you don’t believe me, you can try to meet your work deadline and arranging for your vacation (including places to see, hotels, tickets, visas, etc) and arranging for blood test, x-ray and doctor’s appointments at the same time. You surely don’t have too much time to think about the “what if” anymore.

And to really add to the burden, I have arranged for my parents to come and accompany me during the recovery week. They will arrive just one day before the “D-day” and we will go on holiday together.

It is funny how they both agreed to come but both have different agendas in their minds;

My mom wants to make sure that I really walk into that hospital and not trying to escape from the back door (trust me, it crosses my mind the last time!)

My dad on the other hand, well now I have to be careful writing this, his “official” task is to guard the back door (apparently I have the “surgery-blood-cold-feet” gen from him so he prefers to keep reasonable distance from the “room”). But most important, his main intention to visit me here is for the vacation (yup, I also inherit the “I-love-to-travel” gen from him). It is obvious that he is more interested to ask about where we are going and what we will see there rather than how the procedure for this Friday will be. (For the record, no complaint recorded here as it really helps me also!).

So I guess, to the rest of you, wish me luck please (and don't put a hidden camera on the back door!).

PS: If you wonder what Jorge’s task at the moment is, well, I have asked him to stay away from any movies but the "Cinderella-and-the-prince-live-happily-ever-after" Hollywood-kind of movies.

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