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So, yeah, getting really frustrated

So, yeah, getting really frustrated with Webcrimson, thinking of moving to blogger. Go me.

I figured there are two things I want to do with this thing right now. The first: put up all my photos of China, along with lovely little anecdotes about them, which is what I always wanted to do with a blog. The second, and less interesting to the rest of the world, is write about some of the adventures in my life here in Edmonton. I have a tendancy to forget that life is an adventure no matter where you are.

So, my current thought is that I'll post a pic and a write up at the beginning of an entry, then under it I'll write about my life. That way, those that are more interested in China can skip the kinda boring parts.

Now, my photos aren't organized worth a damn, so they're going to go up in random order, depending on what's scanned and what isn't. I'm going to try and put things in groups, but we'll see.

Special thanks to Tom and Mike for doing the scannings for me.

The old city walls of NanjingYou have no idea how much I wish I could find my guide book right now.

The young man in front of the big wall is Paul, who some of you may remember being my friend I met from New Zealand. This was during Spring Festival, and it took us forever to find a place to access the walls. Mostly because my guidebook was written by drunken mythical creatures with no sense of distance, and the maps were incredibly deceptive.

Anyway, the big point of this picture was to show the size of these walls. They were huge! Huger than huge! Really really huge!

I'm one of those history geeks, so I was just fascinated in the speculation on how they had built the wall. I have a pic some place showing how thick the walls were, too.

The walls now surround this beautiful park. You can walk through the park, which is right along a large body of water, following a path. It's very peaceful, or at least as peaceful as anything in China really gets. I mostly remember how you could look out on the water, and see this rather large island, which had been built over with some sort of amusement park. I have pics of that somewhere.

I will admit, I don't really understand the Chinese obsession with outdoor amusement parks. But then, the weather where I was living was much milder than the weather in Alberta. It just seemed as though they are trying to keep kids entertained, though. There was an amusement park of some sort almost everywhere we went, and I never felt safe around them. But then, some of you may recall my rants about the World's Scariest Amusement Park, which is in Jiangyan. I've got those pics someplace, too.

You can eventually climb up to the top of the walls. Now I can't remember if we went to the top of the walls or not, but I suspect not. By the time we found the area we wanted to go to, and walked along the path to an area you could get to the top of the wall, we were pretty exhausted. It had been a long day.

But the wall... oh my goodness! Each one of those bricks was made and placed by hand, and the signature of the person who built it, as well as the person who inspected it, had to be on the brick. You can see some of the inscriptions still. It's quite fascinating.

IOW: If you go to Nanjing, be sure to check out the city walls. The whole park-area is beautiful.

See Also:

closeup of bricks

The bricks, close up. See what I mean about the writing? {click to enlarge}

In unrelated, but current news, I'm sick, and suffering from insomnia again. At least I haven't started having audio hallucinations again. Yay me.

I do, however, have this rant:

Dealing with embassies and consulates and stuff can be so damned frustrating. For a friend of mine, I have been in contact over the past few days with several consulates in Canada, as well as the Canadian government about my tax information. Of all things, the Canada Revenue People were incredibly friendly and helpful, explaining all of my options, getting me all the information I needed, and sending me out several pieces of paper I need to file my income tax for 2003. (Yes, 2003. I procrastinate. Plus, I was in China.)

But the British Consulate? Oh My God.

First, you have to listen to this very long message where they explain to you that a) they really don't want to answer a lot of questions, because that's what their website is for, b) they won't answer any questions that are answered on their website, c) they won't answer any questions about your visa application over the phone, d) they won't take anyone coming into the office about anything unless they've book an online appointment and e) they really really don't want to talk to you. After that, if you still want to talk to them, you press 9.

Then they ask you again. "Are you certain you want to talk to a representative? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no."

At that point, I was on hold for less than 2 minutes before I got through to someone who very obviously did not want to talk to me. I would start my question with a bit of background information, and then she'd talk over me, answering something other than what I wanted. I mean, for crying out loud, wait until I'm done! I kept saying, "Yes, I understand that part, but what I need answered is...". *sigh*

Ultimately, she looked up the information I needed on a website other than theirs, directed me to that website as it has an FAQ that will answer any questions I might have, and that once I found the answer there I would need to cross reference it with their website to confirm everything.

And that was the end of that call.

Luckily the website she directed me to was very helpful, and did answer the majority of my questions. There are still some others that my friend needs answered, but there's a consulate's office in Vancouver, and I might just pop in there and ask some questions when I visit my parents this summer.

I contrast this to my conversation with the consulte for the Netherlands that's here in Edmonton. (I'm a little surprised there's a consulate for the Netherlands in Edmonton. I mean, I love this place to pieces and all, but why here?) I called them with some other questions, and the nice woman with the lovely Dutch accent on the other end answered all of my questions, made some suggestions I hadn't thought of, and encouraged me to call back again should I have any more questions.

I know the British people are probably inundated with calls that are simple Q&A answered on the site, and it must get frustrating to listen to that all day, but the whole thing was just... arg! ARG!

Anyway, does anyone know why so many of these offices are closed Wednesday afternoons?


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