Gotta love the Chinese Immigration!
The first time I arrived in Shanghai was exactly thirty years ago and I just loved this city. In fact, I have always wanted to live in Shanghai. I love its cosmopolitan feel, its energy, its architecture, its vibe.
I remember once saying OK four years in Melbourne and then Shanghai... well that idea never flew, the global financial crisis hit, the kids had important exams and life moved on!
So here I am ten years after my last visit to China, to get eat, drink and get married, a whole other story, standing in front of a Bangkok Chinese Immigration official, who wants to know why in 2007 I had a double entry visa to China and only went once?
Ummmmm well... Oh gosh, do you remember what you were doing ten years ago? I'm sensing this unintentional blot on my copybook could be stopping me from getting my visa to Shanghai. Or maybe it was something else?
I thought I'd been careful with all my paperwork... I’m here to apply for a tourist visa. I read some advice for a hassle-free time with Chinese Immigration in Thailand which suggested no matter what, if you are on my sort of Thai resident visa, tick the unemployed box …
I don't have work rights in Thailand and Thais are ultra particular about guarding jobs for Thai people. The advice was simply don’t put down you are a lawyer on sabbatical or anything clever, you are just unemployed, so write this. So I did.
But it soon became obvious that I was not entering China in my own right as a tourist. I would be going at the same time as my husband on a business trip. Therefore to gain my visa I needed to prove I was married to Mr Wren and be able to show his Thai work permit.
That meant producing our marriage certificate, Mr Wren's passport, his Thai work permit. I was not a tourist on holiday at all. I was just about to get into a strop about personal loss of identity when the lovely man at the China Visa department said to me:
You’re not unemployed, you’re a housewife!
Now thinking back it might have been said in a slightly accusatory manner, but I was so delighted with this recognition that I promptly forgave him for the extra paperwork required.
‘So I am’ I meekly replied!
Which kind of nicely brings me full circle
as it was in China that ten years ago I officially stopped being unemployed
and became a housewife!