We had a jam packed day on Wednesday. After our morning Internet ritual at Starbucks, a group of new teachers had to meet at the school for a couple of Chinese government adventures. The first included getting our passport size picture taken for the afternoon trip to a health clinic. Afterwards, we paid for our DSL which will be installed on Wednesday at "24 hours from now." QSI then treated us for lunch back at the school. It was traditional Chinese pork with some rice and veggies. As usual, the Chinese food was excellent. After returning back to the photo shop to receive our 8 photos and signed receipt, we arrive back at QSI for a trip to a health clinic in Shenzhen.
Let me break from the story to describe to you a little bit about Chinese culture and government. Everything is very precise, so when they say "24 hours from now," they literally mean that. If they say you'll need 8 passport photos, you'll need all of them, and if they say sign the receipt, you dang well better do it. Most of it, of course, is Communist formalities, but they are very specific and efficient nonetheless.
The trip to the health clinic took us straight through Shenzhen. It is compose of high rise after high rise after high rise after another. I'm not quite sure I can express to you in words how large this city actually is. Yes, New York City has its share of high rises, but it is fairly compact. Imagine 4 NYCs put together. All of the 1.3 billion Chinese have to live somewhere and they have perfected the art of the high rise apartment and office buildings. Some of them are fairly crappy and others are quite beautiful. Nonetheless, there are 1000s of them.
Another break from our story to discuss to you about driving, walking, and biking in China. Unless you are 4th generation Chinese, you do not dare drive. The rules for driving are very slack. By slack, I mean yield doesn't necessarily mean yield, stop doesn't mean stop, and those little striped lines that tell you to yield to pedestrians (FORGET IT!). If you are walking, do not assume under any circumstances that the cars or busses will stop for you. I fully expect in my time here to get drilled by a car at least once. I'm just bracing myself and brushing up on my Frogger skills. Lane changes are rapid and as long as another vehicle heading straight on isn't withing 3 inches, cars will pass one another in other lanes. It is truly a spectacle. We got our share as our little short bus made it across Shenzhen to the health clinic.
Remember Chinese Communist efficiency. It is in just about everything they do. Factories, government, education. This includes the health inspection that we had to go through on Tuesday afternoon. To sum up a rather lengthy but efficient process, they give us a number and then herd us from one room to the next check our pulse, blood pressure, sonogram, x-rays, dentals, ears, height, weight, blood test, and the "optional" urine sample. Please keep in mind that there are hundreds of people in this hallway doing the exact same thing, roaming from one room to the next and getting their little sheets signed off on by what you could call candy stripers. If you'll notice the pictures at the bottom toward the end of the slideshow, you can see some of the workers. I was only able to take a few pictures because I was asked to stop.
Last but not least, we went downstairs for the urine sample. Easy enough, but the drop off spot was a tray outside both the men's and women's restrooms where you dropped your cup. No cover on any of the cups. It was quite disgusting but I'm sure sterile.
That afternoon, we ran into a little bit of bad luck and had to go to the ATM. To our surprise, there was not only 2 security guards at the ATM, but also a fully armed soldier with what looked to be a cross between a shotgun and an UZI. We quickly got our money and went home.