At Happy English we get paid on the 15th of each month, and that pay check covers the month before’s hours, meaning that because we started work at the end of August we don’t get a real pay check until halfway through October (since September’s pay covers August’s work hours). We are trying to avoid having to take more money out of the bank, but funds are tight. We’re down to 100 RMB a week (about $16). Today we were flown to Harbin (or Hairpin as Lainey wrote on our itinerary) to renew our visas. We ordered tea in the airport while we waited for our flight. We didn’t bother asking the price before our cups came, how much could tea cost, especially in a country where it is literally everywhere! The bill came to 106 RMB! For two tiny cups of tea! We muttered that the stuff better have some sort of healing powers as we handed over the money.
It was the start of a very long day. We had to fly back to Jinan that evening and had no time to see any sights or even try any of the local food. It involved a lot of running around under sketchy circumstances trusting in a man we did not know. We got our visa photos taken in someone’s upstairs apartment in front of a blue curtain with a point and shoot camera. The passports needed to stay behind to be processed, and would be mailed to us. We had to get on the airplane with nothing but a photocopy. Three security guards were called in when we tried to go through airport security check. They let us through after a discussion in Chinese that probably only lasted five minutes, but felt like five hours. The entire time I was praying in my head “Please don’t let me end up in Chinese jail!”
I had a huge sinus headache from my head cold that had still not gone away by the time we landed in Jinan, and it was excruciatingly painful. Not much of a day off.