T - 1: Thursday - A China Coddiwomple - CycleBlaze

May 26, 2022

T - 1: Thursday

Oh look, a house key
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There are so many things yesterday that would have been made substantially more convenient if I had been able to go back into my apartment in the morning instead of waiting until late evening; if I had, perhaps, hidden a spare key somewhere not too hard to find but not too obvious either.

Today, I went to put Sarah's key in a clever spot of that sort, one that I could describe to my assistant Tyra so that she could find it without too much trouble. After much deliberation, I settled on the inside of my electric meter. Fumbling the little plastic door open, I discovered that the fear of locking myself out had apparently caused me to not only secrete spares throughout all my backpacks but also to cleverly leave a key there at some point in the not so distant past¹. The problem with my hiding a spare key there was that when I locked myself out,  I didn't remember having done so!

Only time I've had a shorter line was when I was yellow coded in April
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Other than a final pass through the apartment in search of socks, the only real tasks I needed to complete today were a Covid test (my arrival city requiring a 48 hour validity NAT), booking a hotel, and setting up the Hebei Health Code.

Frustrations abounded with the Health Code to the point that I'm just going to have to hope people accept my Hainan Code². I couldn't register for Hebei as a non-Chinese citizen and the applet's information for resident non-citizens:

 “已在境内的港澳台同胞、外籍人士等无境内居民身份证入境人员,请在支付宝首页搜索 "国家政务服务平台" ,使用全国一体化政务服务平台 "防疫健康信息" 入境人员版。”

told me to use the National Code which—despite having an option for foreigners and despite having my information saved as a User—currently isn't accepting logins by people who don't have a domestic ID card.

They've conveniently labeled the foreigner specific option in English. It then redirects to a Chinese language page that says you need to have a local ID to use this function
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Hotel booking went nearly as non-smooth. I'm trying to avoid too much yelling at people if possible and started with the hopes that the bike shop knew a hotel owner or a cyclist-friendly place to stay as the anonymous front desk staff of mid-range urban locations are basically my nemesis.

He suggested I use one of the Booking Apps and even, helpfully, showed me that there was an option to pick "foreigner friendly" on his preferred app. Sadly, however, all attempts to book rooms that were thus listed came back with error messages ranging from "we need your name in characters as it is written on your ID" to "this hotel is only selling rooms to Mainland Chinese guests".

CTrip.com's English platform Trip (the one that I always send other foreigners to) had a substantially limited selection of things that cost more than I wanted to pay, nowhere near the Bike Shop.

Eventually, however, I managed to book—via my preferred Map app—a hotel that neither showed up on Trip or on CTrip as "accepting foreigners" but which was reasonably priced, is only a kilometer from the shop, and has already sent me my confirmation. I'll head there before I get my bike, and hope that things aren't too fucky.

A shrimp and avocado croissant sandwich
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The non-working provincial health code, inability to book rooms via any normal means, and lack of people³ answering the phone at any of the city's Official Information Hotlines has me more than a little bit nervous.


¹ It's not even been two years since the Midnight Locksmith Visit that led to my getting a new lock and new keys.

² In the past I've preferred using my Hainan Code on account of it having my vaccination info.

³ The one and only time the phone picked up, it was a fax machine.

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Lorenzo JaryOh dear, not a very smooth start... Fingers crossed for fewer bumps going forward!
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