Traveling to the Beijing CUCAS Office

It was a productive day, and I tried to take some pictures, but it was raining for the whole of the day.  Here are just a few that I have taken since I’ve been here.  Not quality, but you get the idea.  It took almost half an hour to get these three to load, so I’ve got to figure out a better method, or time of day.   I would like everyone across the pond to know that you can travel 13 hours around the world, find yourself in a random hostel and still be plagued by stories of financial failings within the American government.  ‘Merika.

Today went very well, at least in comparison to yesterdays debilitation.  I started the day with the plan of heading to northwestern Beijing to the CUCAS headquarters to pick up the paperwork for my school program.  Now this seemed like a relatively easy trip, given that I would only have to take two subways, one that is right outside of the hostel door, and another that ends directly outside the CUCAS office building.  No problem, I’ve got this.

Feeling good and loaded with dumplings that I bought from a tiny restaurant, I hopped on to the first train and got to the right transfer station.  Step one, complete.  The CUCAS office is located within the Haidian district of Beijing, and for one reason or another, I opted to go to a station that had Haidian in the name, as opposed to taking a closer look at the map and seeing where I should really head.  This was well and good, but if I had looked the first time I would have seen that the offices are actually in Wudaokou, quite a distance away from the station that I chose.  But no, jetlag is still helping to make some of my decisions for me.

Now here is where things get kind of entertaining.  I looked around for the cross streets that I had for the address, but couldn’t see anything that quite resembled the exact character combinations.  Finding one that was close enough, I determined that the CUCAS office must have made a small mistake in their address listing.  One character wrong, I mean it could happen, couldn’t it?  I just wasn’t thinking all that clearly.

But in the truest of Chinese coincidence, it turns out that there was an office building that not only fit the description, but shared the exact address to a T (minus one character).  I took a moment to count my blessing, figuring that I had stumbled onto the correct building by chance, and congratulated myself on my infallible sense of direction.

Arriving at the 12th floor, I found a number of high end publishing companies, but nothing resembling an office for international students.  I decided that I would try giving them a call-

“Hey, I’m trying to get to your office, and I think I am here, but can’t find your door”

“Can you please repeat our address-”
(I rattle off the details of where I am, sure that I am in the right place)

“Oh yes, that’s us, just come in when you get here”
(End of Conversation)

At this point, I was worried that I had been truly taken by a classic Chinese scam, and decided that I would just ask someone on the floor if they had heard of the place.  Walking in to a random office, I asked the person closest to the door.  The man looked at the address on the paper, and began to laugh, pulling up a map on his computer, and explaining that I was very far away, at least five bus stops.  I was having a hard time keeping up, in part because he was talking so fast, but also because he and a random voice from the cubicle behind him were debating how I might best find my way.  In the end, they wrote down a bus number, and nothing more.  I got back on the subway.

I did eventually find the office, and they had a good laugh when I told them who I was

“Oh, William Spademan, I know you.  You have applied for China so many times”

Yes, yes, nine times through these folks, and several times on my own, but that’s all a thing of the past.  Having finally gotten the papers that I wanted, I head back to the train.  In China, when you purchase a fare to enter the subway you are required to hold your ticket and return it in order to exit the subway station.  I finally got back to the Guloudajie station and entered my ticket into the turnstile.  It gladly took the ticket, but a red light came on and it said ‘See Agent’.  I managed to get out without problem, but upon returning to the hostel, I realized that it had been my room key that I lost to that damn machine.  Goodbye, deposit.

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