T - 0: Friday 唐山 - A China Coddiwomple - CycleBlaze

May 27, 2022

T - 0: Friday 唐山

My dinner
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Rarely have I been as grateful for having wheelchair service as I was at the Tangshan Airport. 

If nothing else, it was nice having a trusted someone in a staff uniform who could tell the people at each of the various barriers to my onward motion "yes, that's already been tried". Other high points were the social engineering 'hack' of looking helpless, and having a comfortable place to sit for the four hours it took between landing and leaving.

Despite it having been a relatively short flight (four hours and a bit), despite my having a whole row to myself and being able to have my leg up the whole flight, and despite my leg generally working when taking part in the Last Call lineup of people who wanted to use the bathroom, it's wonky when we get on the ground. 

Per the usual, I decline to allow anyone to push me up the jetway as—in addition to being quite solid underneath my fat—this is my opportunity to see how my leg really feels¹. Just the distance from plane to terminal and it's not even the slowly shuffling mass of people in front of me signaling a lot of standing and waiting about to happen that makes me very happy to be sitting down.

Even though everyone coming off the plane was tested within the past 48 hours as part of their departure from Haikou, we all will have to get a Covid test; but first we have to do registrationing that I can't do because neither the Hebei nor Tangshan Codes will accept me. I am instead taken out a side door past a sign for "Abnormal Passengers" to a Quonset hut where they aren't real sure what to do with me either.

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I am an "international passenger" but I am not an "international arrival" and none of the forms that they have really manages to quite encompass the situation of "other than her existence, there's actually nothing wrong with her". 

In true cover your ass fashion, this is settled by a combination of filling out one of everything they can find and lots of marginal notes.

General attitude is quite relaxed
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From timestamps, including the part where I was deemed to be insufficiently special to have the nurse come to me for Covid testing (versus going through the normal kiosk), this all took about 30 minutes after which I got to sit and wait.

And wait 

And wait some more.

Some of this was the city's standard "informing the district health committee" behavior and some of it was "what do you mean she isn't able to be in any of our computers" and a little bit of it was "oh no, foreigner" (but from listening in on the phone calls I could hear it was more about my nonexistence within the database than it was my nationality), before I was good to go.... at which point the hotel called back and said "we don't have the license to take foreigners, so we're going to need you to cancel your reservation and find someplace else to stay".

Tour Test #2
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Separate from the fact that blustering works better in person, I couldn't be raising my voice when surrounded by all these frustrated epidemic prevention staff who—even if they had not been actively trying to be helpful—had the power to throw me in Quarantine. I still refused to allow the hotel to refuse me and, somehow, it worked.

I suspect a fair amount of behind-the-scenes fuss of some sort happened as my ride into the city went from "since we kept you here so long, we thought we'd find some airport worker heading in that general direction who can drop you off" to someone in the municipal government² being voluntold into coming and getting me.

In part on account of my being delivered to the hotel by the government, my pre-filled Temporary Residence Registration Form for Foreigners was accepted alongside photos of me, my Hainan Health Code, my Travel Code, and my NAT results; I did not get the opportunity to check out their computer to check its capacity to actually register me (but, as I'm staying two nights, plan to ask).

Wearing a bunny suit, face shield, N95, and driving an adorable domestic EV, my ride arrives...
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I've promised Sarah that I shall inform her of the dustiness quotient of every hotel TV this trip. (She actually wanted to know if glasses had been properly cleaned but that's too hard to photograph)
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¹ Capable of weight bearing but not good at it, the Lump was also looking particularly vicious.

² I asked him what department he is in. He told me what department he is in. Not only does this department make zero sense for him to have been the person picking me up and dropping me off, he knew things (like the length of time for a Residence Permit renewal being a good reason for my not starting until after I had renewed) during our chat that make me think he's rather definitely not in that department.

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