Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Land of Oz

It's not that I'm going through culture shock or that I dramatically roll my eyes and knock my head against the wall everytime I venture outside my door.

It's just that nothing that I could have learned in any culture and customs classes could ever have prepared me for the status quo in China. Especially in such a city as Dongyang that is so isolated from the rest of society. It's great that China is attempting to open its doors to the world and prove what a developed country they are, but even speaking for open minded people everywhere, I boldly state that China has a long way to go.

It's weaknesses are its strengths and vice versa - but how twisted it all seems when I take a step back and compare this country to my own, Canada.

Example number one: The Bank. This girl is going home in less than 2 weeks, fact. Don't tell anyone, but I have a large sum of money, not dirty, that needs to go with me. And it's in cash form. And it's quite thick. And like everything else here it has Mao Zedong's mugshot front and centre. Naturally my options would be to open a bank account with the Bank of China and wire this money over to my Canada Trust account, or to exchange it to Canadian funds and bring it over, or (as Cassandra suggested) buy a huge ass fanny pack and stow it away under my clothing on the 17 hour flight back home and pray no one steals it. I see a problem with every one of these options.

Firstly, I was informed today through an interpretor that wire transfers take one week and cost 200 yuan per. Let's take into consideration the fact that I'm leaving very soon and don't have 7 days to sit and wait and see if my money finds its way home. Plus I'll take into consideration the fact that absolutely no help can be found on the spot and takes about 4 days to line up and schedule and reschedule, I hope you will come to the same conclusion as me: I simply can't wire my money back home, by the time it "get's there" I will already be on a plane and chances are something will go wrong on the Chinese side and it'll be too late for me to make things right.

"It's no problem to exchange Chinese Yuan to Canadian Dollars," they say with a smile on their faces. And the exchange rate is 100:66 according to the board on the left, which makes me a rich woman - sort of. But upon coaxing and coaxing the bankers for an answer they inevitably come up short: they have no Canadian Dollars to buy, only US. Big surprise and actually I'm sure if pushed on about US funds, they'd eventually have the same answer for me. I must make an appointment to exchange my money so they have the opportunity to import the Dollars from Shanghai. Something tells me this will take 12 days when all is said and done, and yet I only have 11 to spare. No chance.

But why don't you just take the RMB with you on the plane and be safe about it? Well Doctor, my answer to you would be that despite the fact that hair bands and giant scrunchies (relics from '92) are still wildy popular in China, I have yet to spot a fanny pack, even a pink one. And this money just won't fit inside my money belt, it refuses, it's that big. Plus I'm even unsure of the legality of this procedure. I've been told many times that it's illegal to take any Chinese Money outside of the country, unless of course you have a permit or permission or whatnot. Many people seem to think so, especially Chinese people. I don't wish to take this sort of risk.

So there is my gaint, stuffy dilemma. If only China's (or at least Dongyang's) policies regarding foreigners and their money weren't so primative. You should have seen the look on these bankers' faces, honestly. It's like they had no clue what they are getting themselves into. I'm sure most of them had never even been faced with a remotely similar situation in their lives. And yet they work at an "international" banking institution. Interesting.

But really, how can I blame them? Is it their fault that a huge amount of people are leaving the country and very few people, oddballs like me and some others, are coming into it? They have very little opportunity to experience the ways of other countries and their people. I on the other hand have daily reality checks that teach me "there is a whole other world out there more different than you could have ever imagined, and everything is backwards and forwards at the same time".

Like my good friend Andrea says to me: "we aren't in Kansas anymore". It's a little cheesy, but be my guest and visit China for a few months and you will heartily agree.

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4 Comments:

Blogger brad- said...

Whoa. that is certainly a dilemma. could you possibly change it into some canadian and the rest american money and then exchange the us funds here? OR you could go on a field trip to the largest bank nearby and get it changed there although travelling with the money would be risky. hmm well why do you need to use a fanny pack? couldnt you use a small backpack or something? i dunno im just throwing stuff out here. seeya soon!

-Brad.

January 16, 2007 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Why don't u leave ur money there? Or are u afraid of being robed? I would just get it changed to anything other then china money so it could leave the country and then make it canadian once ur here. But that is a shitty deal, I hate stupid rules and that is a very stupid rule. Can't wait to see you tho!

January 17, 2007 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Gravebandit said...

Well, push for the american. What else can I say...I do like the big ass fanny pack though, I find that thought pretty comical. I'd be interested to know if canadian banks will buy chinese currency, hmmm..they must! Anyway, sounds crazy, and frustrating. Be safe with your cash.

Grave

January 17, 2007 at 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Matt (#72) said...

can you go to the bank and get larger denominations of bills and carry it that way to reduce the overall size? You could always wrap it in saran wrap and duct tape it to yourself and go around looking like the Michalin man. I think I need some more coffee. see you in a couple of weeks, don't be afraid to come by.

January 19, 2007 at 11:22 PM  

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