The Police - Me China Red - CycleBlaze

March 19, 2021 to March 20, 2021

The Police

Once I pulled back enough layers and got super close to the temperature gun, I read 35.3℃
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For those of you who are unfamiliar with my travels around China, pre-Covid my "Marian vs. the Police" score was 123 to 6. Points were scored for them if they actually got me to leave when they told me I needed to leave. Points were scored for me on the basis of "number of categories of official present when I was told I needed to go somewhere else". I suppose, if I'm being completely fair, I should allow them to get multiple points under the same system and should make that 6 into a 9 or 10, but, in any case, the result of my being told "you must leave" pretty much never is me actually leaving.

For travel since Covid happened (including non bike trips), I have had:93 times where I stayed at or attempted to stay at a hotel.
24 times a hotel told me "go away". 
times (2 unrelated to my being foreign) that I went away.
19 times, that I refused to go away.
17 times that the police were called on me.
10 times that the police agreed I absolutely had to leave.

and... 1 time that I left.

Visit 1: The Paper Forms
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So other than it being way too early in the day or my having an important virtual meeting I had to attend in about 45 minutes, this wasn't anything unusual. What was unusual was that in the interval between we have rooms and we don't know how to register you but the police are on their way to help us figure it out because we couldn't possibly dream of letting you show us how to do it on the computer system which we already have for registering hotel guests and the police arriving, the hotel decided that they were actually booked solid and couldn't sell me a room.

And being as I wasn't hungry and I wasn't tired and I wasn't cranky and it wasn't an hour past sunset and there were other hotels in town, I left with the police, followed them to the police station, had a bit of a comedy of errors with the temperature gun because my skin was initially too cold to register, and went to the next hotel down the road for a nice easy check-in where they (including the police) still wouldn't let me go behind the desk to show them how easy it is to do on the software that they already have and I ran upstairs to my meeting.

Visit #3: The Photographer
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You would think given the number of times that I'd mentioned to anyone who would listen that the only reason I was looking for a hotel at 2:30 in the afternoon is because "I have a very important virtual meeting" that the police wouldn't have been so gosh darn surprised when they came to my room around 3:15 and I was impatient to get them to leave and really wanted them to come back later and really didn't want to take just a moment to talk to them because "I'm in the middle of a meeting right now".

One officer showed up perhaps 25 minutes later to tell me that despite someone at the station having managed to scrounge up an already existing set of paper forms for the temporary residence of foreigners the first time they came by the room that actually.... I couldn't stay here and was going to need to go somewhere else because this wasn't a foreigner hotel and foreigners couldn't stay here. That was met with more "do you mind, I'm in a meeting" and, when that didn't get him to go away, some Jedi mind tricks where I simply informed him that whoever had told him this was wrong and that I wasn't leaving, and that even if I was leaving (which I wasn't) I was currently in a meeting and could we please have this discussion in an hour or 90 minutes when I was done with work?

Fourth and final visit
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Someone (maybe the same officer) was back a half hour after that because they hadn't gotten a photo of the info page of my passport.

And a half hour after that because my chicken scratch handwriting when I'd filled out my form meant that they couldn't read the contact phone number I'd put down.

...

In the morning, when I went to check-out of the hotel, they wanted--presumably per request of the police--for me to go by the police station and tell them I was leaving, which annoyed me but which I decided wasn't the sort of thing that it would do me any good to complain about.

Although I had woken up particularly early, I knew it was cold outside and had dawdled over breakfast and it wasn't all that early by this point in time. However, in a town the size of this one, it was early enough that whoever was on overnight duty took a good five minutes to hear me calling and still had a foamy toothbrush in his hand when he came out to acknowledge my existence. That was enough time for me to notice a sign-in sheet on the counter for all visitors from out of town with a place for their permanent address, phone number, and current body temperature.

Being as a combination of institutional mistrust in their own institutions by the people who work in those institutions along with draconian "nuke everything from orbit" methods of control are a big part of how China has managed to effectively get Covid under control¹, and are therefore part of how I am able to travel right now, I decided that if I'm merely being singled out for "not being from around these parts" rather than being singled out for "not being Chinese" that I was actually more okay with the previous night's behavior than I had been before.

¹ Other than very early, very total lockdowns, the biggest factor in its ability to control the pandemic has been that China didn't have to deal with it showing up in a hundred cities all at once.

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Daniel Tynan"the biggest factor in its ability to control the pandemic has been that China didn't have to deal with it showing up in a hundred cities all at once." Thanks for the insight Marian. . I've always been wondering how China apparently manages covid so well. . (we are entering our 3rd western style loose lockdown in Canada today). But yeah it makes sense that they were able to mostly isolate Covid to certain cities and did not have infected people coming into every city across the nation at once like in Canada.
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1 week ago
Marian RosenbergTo Daniel TynanEven the strictest of western lockdowns hasn't begun to approach the way the Chinese lockdowns (which I mercifully avoided by virtue of being stuck in Thailand) were done.

Furthermore, the level of contact tracing done is insane. Maybe two months ago a man in Chengdu who was later diagnosed as asymptomatic had lunch in the same airport restaurant as two women who later flew to Hainan. Within hours of the man being diagnosed, the women and their entire tour group were put into quarantine.
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1 week ago